ASK RENATA

I drive buses, several of which have inadequate air con systems. My bus got to 40c in the driver’s seat, and 35c in the saloon. We drivers cop a lot of abuse because it’s too hot. There are six buses in the fleet with this problem. What should I do about this? 

Heat, whether seasonal or part of the work environment, can lead to serious illness and increased workplace accidents.

Temperatures such as you describe may be putting you and your passengers at serious risk.

Exposure to excessive heat must be prevented, through elimination or modifications to the workplace, or systems of work.

Where higher order measures do not adequately control the risk, it may be necessary to introduce additional administrative controls, such as a work-rest regime, or negotiated maximum temperature, beyond which work must cease.

You do have the right to refuse unsafe work. 

Your employer has a duty not expose you, and your passengers, to health and safety risks, so far as is reasonably practicable.

By exposing you to heat stress and occupational violence and aggression they may be breaching those duties.

Lone workers are particularly vulnerable.

Our Violence at Work web page contains a violence at the workplace safety audit and a violence risk assessment tool which you may find helpful, and many unions also have publications and policies on violence, including:

    • The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation – 10 Point Plan to End OVA
    • The Ambulance Employees Association of Victoria has issued guidelines for members at risk of violence

Speak with your DWG and encourage them to report and document all incidents.

Should consultation with your employer fail to result in prompt action, you’re able to issue a PIN or direct that work cease until things are made safe.

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