This week saw the launch of the 2019/20 bushfire program here in Australia, off the back of a dry winter and predictions of a long hot summer ahead. We have watched with horror, the heatwaves that have smashed the people of Europe and the United States, with the tacit understanding that this is headed our way. For many of us, the heat is merely an inconvenience as we leave our air conditioned houses and drive in our air conditioned cars to our air conditioned offices, with only short exposures to the weather in between.
However, for many of us that weather becomes our operating environment with our exposures dictated not by what we want to do, but rather what is needed to be done. In my world, that of firefighting, we simply cannot ‘down tools’ when it gets too hot. We have a job to do.
But you’re not a firefighter you say…maybe not. What about the bricklayer needing to get the house finished before Christmas, the line worker having to repair downed power lines so that our air conditioning is firing when we get home? The Schoolteacher working in the classroom without air conditioning?
We know that heat kills. We know that, when we expose people to these environments the risk of injury increases, cognitive performance decreases and the very real risk of heat stroke occurs. Unfortunately, through experience we know that heat kills. However, what do you as an employer do about it? Do you provide water and a bit of shade and call it a day? Do you change your work times to suit the environment? Are you one of the many who risk manage based on the fact that “it hasn’t happened yet so I don’t need to worry.” Are you looking for your “Black Swan” event without even knowing it.
And then, what information are you and your staff using to make those decisions? An educated workforce, from the lowliest worker to the loftiest manager is critical to ensuring the safety of our staff at work. In the firefighting world, we spend far more time on preparing than we do on responding. We know that the work put in before the fire arrives, pays dividends when it does. As such, why would managing a risk be any different? Summer is coming. We know it is going to be a hot one. The question is, are you a boss that prepares for disaster by educating your staff and developing policy appropriately, or are you the one who scrambles when it arrives.
At Optimised Human Performance, we have developed an E-Learning package to assist you in meeting your due diligence when meeting the challenges of putting your workers into the heat. We can match this with formal training courses, tailored to your individual workplace and your risk profile. Now is the time to act, not while it is 40degrees outside rather while we still have time to prepare.