By Ian Neubauer

Publicans, restaurateurs and retailers across south east Australia are being warned not to put employees as risk this weekend (Feb 7 and 8) in anticipation of an extreme heatwave.

Temperatures are expected to reach as high as 43 degrees in Melbourne, 46 in Mildura and Swan Hill, 44 degrees in Sydney’s west and up to 47 degrees in Broken Hill. 

Worksafe Victoria executive director, John Merritt, said immediate planning was needed to ensure people were not put at risk.

“Employers have a legal responsibility to provide and maintain a safe workplace, consult with workers on safety-related matters and to monitor their health,” he said. “Preparing for the prevention of fatigue, heat stroke and heat stress are real issues for the employers of people working in hot conditions.

“Delivery drivers, shopping centre trolley collectors and others who work outdoors are at particular risk, however the needs of people working inside or under-cover must also be considered by employers. Many businesses don’t have air conditioning or have areas such as kitchens where high outside temperatures will be exacerbated.”

The hot conditions are also expected to foster a large numbers of absentees, or tardiness caused by breakdowns and delays in public transport. In Sydney, train drivers have been ordered to slow down from 40kph to 10kph in fear the heat will cause buckling of railway tracks.

And Energy Australia is warning of possibly brownouts as power grids struggle to deal with excessive demand. “You can’t get a cast-iron guarantee that there won’t be any faults, particularly if it gets very hot in areas like Broken Hill,” Energy Australia spokesperson, Anthony O’Brien, told News Limited.

The Bureau of Meteorology said a strong change and cooler conditions are expected to enter southwest NSW on Sunday night and move across southern and central areas of the state on Monday (Feb 9).

The extended heatwave that has gripped most of the southern states over the last 10 days is attributed to a high-pressure system anchored over the Tasman Sea. It has decimated vast swaths of agricultural produce, including wine grapes, with up to 30 per cent of crops destroyed in Mildura and other areas. 

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *