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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(3), 459; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15030459

What Can We Learn about Workplace Heat Stress Management from a Safety Regulator Complaints Database?

1
School of Public Health, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia
2
SafeWork SA, Government of South Australia, 33 Richmond Road, Keswick, SA 5035, Australia
3
Department for Health and Ageing, Government of South Australia, 11 Hindmarsh Square, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 February 2018 / Revised: 24 February 2018 / Accepted: 1 March 2018 / Published: 6 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Issues in Occupational Safety and Health)
Full-Text   |   PDF [433 KB, uploaded 6 March 2018]   |  

Abstract

Heat exposure can be a health hazard for many Australian workers in both outdoor and indoor situations. With many heat-related incidents left unreported, it is often difficult to determine the underlying causal factors. This study aims to provide insights into perceptions of potentially unsafe or uncomfortably hot working conditions that can affect occupational health and safety using information provided by the public and workers to the safety regulator in South Australia (SafeWork SA). Details of complaints regarding heat exposure to the regulator’s “Help Centre” were assembled in a dataset and the textual data analysed thematically. The findings showed that the majority of calls relate to indoor work environments such as kitchens, factories, and warehouses. The main themes identified were work environment, health effects, and organisational issues. Impacts of hot working conditions ranged from discomfort to serious heat-related illnesses. Poor management practices and inflexibility of supervisors featured strongly amongst callers’ concerns. With temperatures predicted to increase and energy prices escalating, this timely study, using naturalistic data, highlights accounts of hot working conditions that can compromise workers’ health and safety and the need for suitable measures to prevent heat stress. These could include risk assessments to assess the likelihood of heat stress in workplaces where excessively hot conditions prevail. View Full-Text
Keywords: occupational health; heat exposure; qualitative occupational health; heat exposure; qualitative
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Hansen, A.; Pisaniello, D.; Varghese, B.; Rowett, S.; Hanson-Easey, S.; Bi, P.; Nitschke, M. What Can We Learn about Workplace Heat Stress Management from a Safety Regulator Complaints Database? Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 459.

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