With South Australia renowned for its catchphrase “a brilliant blend”, promising great living and working conditions, the standards of some workplaces throughout the state would still surprise many. Unlike Victoria, which enforces regulations in workplaces through its WorkSafe Compliance Code, South Australia seems to remain struggling behind.
Although this is less of a problem during the colder seasons, for many employees, this season of severe temperature sees heat stress and even exhaustion becoming a point of serious contention. The question the then looms is how? With South Australia considering itself apart of the developed world it seems strange that this can happen.
At present, employers have no legal requirements to provide a cooler working environment, as according to occupation health and safety there are “no regulations specifying standards for maximum temperatures in the workplace”. This is then contradicted by WorkCover SA, which states that an employer must keep a safe and healthy working environment.
It then should be asked why a workplace creating heat exhaustion within its staff isn’t counted as unsafe?
So, if all these government documents are read literally, the South Australian government considers working conditions as safe, even if it causes symptoms of “sweating, rapid heart rate, muscle cramps and weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting or fainting” (Better Heath Channel – symptoms of heat exhaustion). Although it might be asked why employers don’t take it upon themselves to create better working conditions, can they really be blamed for not installing air conditioning during these economic times of hardship? Even though they probably should be blamed, those writing the regulations should also be looked upon.
So ultimately, how hard can it be to change a simple legal requirement if it ensures the safety of our employees both young and old?
By Georgia Kelly-Bakker