Gympie labourer Dan Stevenson attempts to cool down with a little water while working in Nash Street this afternoon.
Gympie labourer Dan Stevenson attempts to cool down with a little water while working in Nash Street this afternoon. Donna Jones

At 38C, should outside labourers still be working?

FEELING the heat today? With a maximum of 38C in Gympie you could be forgiven for thinking you were in hell.

Spare a thought for those men and women who work outdoors, digging holes, stringing fences, chopping down trees and crawling around in roof spaces.

How do they do it?

Are there rules and regulations in place to protect them in weather like this?

According to the president of the Queenland and Northern Territory Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, Royce Kupsch, there should be.

The post by the CFMEU attracted 1.4 million hits when it was first posted last summer.
The post by the CFMEU attracted 1.4 million hits when it was first posted last summer. Facebook

The above post was circulated on Facebook last summer and received 1.4 million hits and their hotline has received inquiries from firemen, policemen and other industries outside of their own.

Mr Kupsch said the union came up with the 35C Tops Work Stops campaign after studying university findings in relation to heat stress.

He also said the coroner's report from a fatal workplace incident in Roma involving heat stress also helped the union come up with their recommendation settings.

Mr Kupsch said all the data they had collected suggested there was a spike in incidents on hotter days.

"We're not saying work should stop completely, but go to another area where there is less heat and humidity,” Mr Kupsch said.

Mr Kupsch went on to clarify this could mean moving into a shaded area to complete another task or taking regular breaks.

"We know this will slow things down and cost more money but the alternative is so much worse,” he said.

Mr Kupsch said Workplace Health and Safety regulation number 40 from 2011 pertains to managing heat and cold in the workplace.

In The Gympie Times office, the mercury was sitting at 36C at 3pm and across the road, Wilsons Commercial landscapers were working in the heat.

One of the labourers, Dan Stevenson, didn't deny the heat was affecting them but said there were guidelines in place regarding working in the heat.

"When you start feeling it, you sit down in the shade for ten minutes until it passes and then get back to work,” he said.

"What I do is set myself a task and try and complete that before taking a break - you know, digging so many centimetres of trench and then sit down in the shade for a bit,” Mr Stevenson said, before upending a bottle of water over his head.

Gympie Times


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