Your business and your employees may be affected by extreme weather conditions, including extreme heat/cool, hail, strong winds or natural disasters such as fire or flood. It's important you not only plan for these events, but also understand your employer obligations to employees in managing extreme weather conditions.
While the Fair Work Act 2009 doesn't have specific leave entitlements for employee's who can't go to work due to extreme weather conditions or other natural disasters, you may have entitlements under your award or agreement.
As an employer, you have an obligation to provide a safe working environment and keep your employees safe during extreme weather events or disasters.
Heat-related illnesses happen when the body cannot cope with high temperatures. Workplace accidents and injuries are more common during hot weather.
Look out for signs of heat-related illness in the workplace including:
- heat stroke
Tips to prevent heat-related illness or injuries
You can prevent heat-related illnesses or injuries in your workplace by:
- rescheduling physical work to cooler times of the day
- wearing lighter coloured, loose clothing that still provides suitable protection
- providing cool drinking water
- reducing the time spent doing harder tasks
- providing extra rest breaks in a cool area and encouraging your employees to take more breaks
- using mechanical aids to reduce physical effort
- providing sunscreen for employees working outdoors
- providing workers with information and training to manage heat-related fatigue and illness.
Floods, fire and other natural disasters
Natural disasters may occur unexpectedly in or around your workplace. These situations may prevent your employees from attending the workplace.
For example, a severe storm in your area may cause flooding, power outages and road closures. This may mean your employees are physically unable to attend the workplace or your business may be unable to operate.
In these circumstances, you may decide to offer flexible work arrangements such as teleworking, or grant leave to your employees.
Read about employees and natural disasters to help you decide how best to manage employee during these events.
What to do...
- Read about Emergency management and recovery to develop your Emergency Management Plan and be prepared for the unexpected.
- Get more tips on preventing heat-related injuries or accidents in your workplace by reading WorkSafe Victoria's Working in the heat guide.
- Head to the South Australia Health website for more resources to help your workplace Stay healthy in the heat.
- Employers and employees can understand their rights and responsibilities, and seek further advice by visiting the Fair Work website or contacting the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.