22 August 2023
At BHP, we are committed to enhancing the safety, diversity, and overall wellbeing of our people. This requires us to consistently review our process of identifying and managing workplace hazards. One such hazard is heat stress. Exposure to high temperatures, especially with strenuous activity, may place parts of the workforce at an increased risk of heat related illnesses.
Across BHP’s Minerals Australia assets, we have deployed heat management strategies such as optimising ventilation, work-rest cycles, communication to our workforce about thermal conditions and awareness campaign materials targeted towards those conducting work that exposes them to risk of heat stress. Through continuously improving our approach to managing heat stress, we seek to enable our people to thrive in their work environment.
Improvement projects and trials currently underway across BHP include:
- job hydration testing, whereby non-invasive strips are placed on the tip of the tongue and provide immediate readings. Results are used to determine the most critical times affecting hydration and indicate whether additional controls are required
- use of handheld monitors measuring thermal work limits, including wind speed, air flow, relative humidity and pressure, which guide decision-making with thermal risk assessments
- automation processes that have additional benefits of removing personnel from conducting tasks in high temperatures
- trialling real-time core body temperature monitoring technology as an approach to better understand and quantify the potential impact of heat stress on our workforce under different future climate scenarios
For a case study on how we are assessing the potential impact of extreme heat on critical infrastructure and equipment under different climate scenarios, refer to the Heat stress at WAIO case study.