Workers want a Queensland union to investigate a heat stress policy when the temperature reaches 35 degrees Celsius.
“I know from experience working in Melbourne, job sites shut at 35C because it’s too hot,” elevator technician Johnny Van said.
“I wonder why we’re not doing it in Queensland, I think it should happen here.”
A spokesman for the CFMEU Victorian branch said its policy, titled 35 degrees Celsius: That’s Enough, was implemented to keep people safe.
“It’s known as ‘heated off’ and workers are guided by the nearest Bureau of Meteorology weather station,” the spokesman said.
The policy also states that union occupational health and safety representatives (OHS) should not wait until the temperature reaches 35C before they act. The union’s EBA states that when the temperature is expected to reach 35C, OHS representatives and management will discuss ways to minimise heat risks.
The agreement also states that at temperatures near to 35C, workers are to be relocated out of direct sunlight if the work environment creates a serious risk to their health and safety. Mr Van worked on job sites in Melbourne for 13 months, which were governed by the CFMEU’s hot weather policy.
“Most of the jobs in Melbourne are union jobs, so normally it’s the union delegate, as soon as it hits 35C or gets close enough to 35C he shuts the job,” Mr Van said.
“He goes ‘right, everyone pack up, let’s go boys’ and the builder doesn’t have any say.”
The Queensland branch of the CFMEU does not have a hot weather policy that sees workers down tools at 35C. Instead, the Queensland branch recommends workers take regular breaks of 30 minutes when temperatures reach 35C.
A spokeswoman for the Queensland branch of the CFMEU did not provide comment, but referred inquiries to their website. Mr Van said on hot days, if he is feeling tired or lethargic it is time to take a break and have a drink.
“You make sure that you keep your fluids up,” he said.
Irrigation technician Luke O’Rourke said the heat was impossible to escape.
“It feels shocking, there’s nothing worse,” he said from a South Bank work site.
“The quicker you do it, the quicker you get out of it.
“You should have a drink and chill out for five minutes every hour.
“If you’re feeling too hot just stop and take 10 minutes out and get some shade.”
Mr O’Rourke estimated he would drink about nine litres of water during hot days.
“I’ll still lose between three and four kilograms,” he said.
“I will feel knackered, but I just have to drink heaps of water and usually have some fruit.
“Living in Queensland you sort of expect it really, you’re going to have hot days.”
Queensland Health recommends people drink at least three litres of water a day during high temperatures and take regular breaks to avoid heat stress.