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Heat stress proves fatal

Tuesday 13, Oct 2020

A recent case shows that heat stress is a significant risk to workers and businesses. An employer was recently fined $65,000 over the death of an international backpacker who collapsed with heat stress while picking fruit.

The worker had been working less than a week when he became unwell, telling co-workers he could not go on. The worker collapsed and died a day later in hospital. 

An investigation by the local regulator reported training inadequacies for workers in how to manage hydration and nutrition in a hot environment and on heat-related illness. Shelter from the sun had also not been considered, and no planning had been conducted to determine whether picking could occur outside of the hottest part of the day.

The court found that the employer had become complacent and the information provided to workers was insufficient to identify heat-related illness, noting the deceased had displayed obvious signs on the day of his collapse.

SAWIA has organised Australia’s pre-eminent occupational heat stress consultant, Dr Matt Brearley,  to present on 24 November in McLaren Vale and 26 November in the Barossa as part of its Annual Work Health and Safety Seminar.  

Attendees will be provided with a practical overview of the issues contributing to worker heat stress, and explore real-world, evidence-based strategies to maximise the health, safety and performance of workers exposed to heat.

Click here to register or obtain more information. For more information, contact Business & Workplace Adviser Zvonko Levak on 8222 9273 or