Top End power workers trained to beat the heat

Power and Water has engaged 'the Heat Guy' Dr Matt Brearley to train staff to be aware of the early signs of dehydration.

Northern Territory’s Power and Water Corporation recognises the Top End is one of the hottest places to work outdoors, and has developed heat stress and dehydration awareness sessions for staff.

Power and Water engaged The Heat Guy Dr Matt Brearley, who has been researching the impact of heat on the body.

In 2015 Dr Brearley conducted a comprehensive study on 30 power line workers, using an internal monitoring device to record the impact of dehydration on the body and this was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

Hydration training teaches workers what early signs of dehydration to look out and the importance of listening to their bodies to avoid ‘heat hangovers’ if they pushed through without taking a water break.

“Working in the Territory requires a different approach than in other regions of Australia,” Dr Brearley said.

“Effective controls for heat-related illness in Power and Water are implemented across all regions of the Northern Territory for the power networks crews.

“The controls are based on scientific techniques that achieve the best cooling rates for workers in tropical field regions.”

Some of the tips for staying cool and hydrated included carrying ice, having access to chilled water and when working in a team, if one member has a drink of water, they call out ‘drink’ to remind the rest of the team to have a drink.

Environmental services coordinator Jen Bentley participated in the heat training last year and has been using the techniques since then.

“Heat management is quite critical in the Territory, with heat stress and dehydration sometimes sneaking up on you,” she said.

“Matt’s session was so informative and engaging and really helped me to understand the importance of proper hydration. I still use tips and tricks I learnt a year ago in my work and personal life.”