How does Australia's heat impact critical illness claims?

Published 23 Feb 2016

Australia has always been known as a land of harsh conditions and climatic extremes. However, while these temperatures can often make for enjoyable summers, they can also quickly become extremely dangerous.

As recent heatwaves across NSW revealed, rising temperatures can impact people's health in a number of different ways. The worst part about these conditions however, is that it can be extremely difficult for people to escape the hot climate, especially in work situations.

Extreme temperatures can cause new health concerns or exacerbate existing ones, meaning difficult summer conditions can result in people making critical illness claims as a result. How does this happen?

Can heat alone cause critical illness claims?

With the recent temperatures in NSW skyrocketing into the high 30s, people who worked outside were put at risk of developing heat-related conditions and becoming ill on the job.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW Peter Dunphy noted that heat alone can put the human body through significant stress, so it's important that people minimise the risk of high temperatures when outdoors over the summer months.

"Fatigue and heat stress can result in organ failure or death, so it is important to adopt a flexible and common sense approach while working in the heat this week," he explained.

How can high temperatures cause further issues?

Even in cases where people aren't made ill directly by the heat, rising temperatures can cause other issues which eventually lead to people needing to make a critical illness insurance claim.

Working in the heat, particularly outdoors or in confined spaces can make it much more difficult for people to remain focused on the task at hand. While in some instances these risks may be minimal, there are other situations where lapses in concentration can be deadly, Mr Dunphy noted.

"The heat can reduce a worker's concentration, ability to recognise risks and communicate effectively, so managers, supervisors and co-workers should keep an eye out for signs of heat-related illness such as dizziness, general weakness, collapse and in extreme cases, heat stroke," he said.

These lapses in judgements can be the catalyst for mistakes that result in workplace accidents. Depending on the seriousness of these situations, people could suffer permanent conditions such as blindness or require limb amputations.

To find out more about critical illness claims, contact the lawyers at Gerard Malouf and Partners.

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