Friday 29 January 2016

Heat Risk For Older QVM Traders

Heat can be an issue under our sheds and there are a number of aspects that need to be considered but one issue that has been tackled is the impact of extreme heat on our older traders.  QVMAC Trader Representative, Ivano, presented the following paper to yesterday's QVMAC meeting on behalf of Trader Representatives.

Extreme Heat and Health Risks for Older Traders at QVM
Due to trading conditions under the Sheds during days of extreme heat, attention needs to be given to the welfare of traders, this matter becomes urgent when considering older traders who are in a particularly high risk category.
We have a very limited number of older traders at the Market (see below), some with pre-existing health conditions, which places them at even greater risk.
Research from various recognised sources indicates that people aged 65 years and over are at a higher risk of being adversely impacted on days of extreme heat.
The exact temperature at which older traders under the sheds are at particular risk is open to
discussion, but some data sets the at risk temperature as anything from 30° up.
(Please refer to attached Reference Material for more information)

As an immediate precautionary measure to begin to address this issue the following
recommendation is given:
All traders 65 and over be exempted from being required to attend the Market on days where the temperature is forecast to be 36° or over.
a) the extremely low financial impact of this measure
b) the minimisation of an at risk trader feeling compelled to attend on a day of extreme heat
c) the reduction of adverse health impacts to both the individual concerned and
management’s duty of care obligation on such days
d) the good will being shown by the company in taking an empathetic approach ( thus
assisting towards the building of a closer relationship between management and traders )
e) the fact that the summer months are at the very start and very end of the year
f) the likelihood that these traders also have pre-existing health conditions ( which places
them at an even higher risk and that increases the probability that they may not have any
leave provision left at the start of summer )
the recommendation is that this provision remains outside the current leave provision extended to traders.

An onsite evaluation conducted on Sunday 24th of January 2016 determined that 14 traders fall into the 65 years or over category.
Of these 14 traders:
9 traders habitually do not come into the market if the temperature is 36° or over
2 traders habitually do not come into the market if the temperature is 40° or over
3 traders attend the Market on all days notwithstanding temperature forecasts

On the basis of the above indicated trader numbers and their current behaviour on extreme heat days and using the 2015 calendar year as a guide, the financial impact for QVM PTY LTD would have been as follows:
Total January 2015 credits due - $480.24
Total February 2015 credits due - $823.68
Total December 2015 credits due - $2,559.04
TOTAL IMPACT for the 2015 calendar year - $ 3,862.96

Extreme Heat and Health Risks for Older Traders at QVM
Reference Material:
a) Protecting human health and safety during severe and extreme heat events ( Price Waterhouse Coopers Australia )
Heatwaves kill more Australians than any other natural disasters. They have received far less public attention than cyclone, flood or bushfire – they are private, silent deaths which only hit the media when morgues reach capacity or infrastructure fails. There has never been a national study which uses a common definition of heatwaves and directly comparable mortality data. Australia has no national heatwave plan. This report remedies these deficiencies and recommends strategies for the national, state and local governments as well as for citizens.
“Because they lack the spectacular and sudden violence of say, a tropical cyclone or flash flood,and because the related death tolls are not always obvious at first, heatwaves rarely receive adequate attention. However, heatwaves are amongst the most dangerous natural hazards.” Michel Jarraud Secretary-General World Meteorological Organisation

Groups most at risk
Heat events do not affect all individuals equally.
Different groups within our communities are more at risk of adverse health affects due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures than others.

People aged 65 years and over are at increased risk of heat-related illnesses and need special care in hot weather.
Risk factors include living alone, chronic medical problems and certain drugs.
Take steps to prevent heat stress on days when the temperature is predicted to rise above 30°C or so.

Who is at risk?
Anyone can suffer from a heat related illness, however the following could be more
vulnerable during an extreme heat event:
• those who are aged over 65 years, especially if living alone
• people who are overweight, obese or have pre- existing medical conditions

Cease working at 36-38 degrees Celsius

The author of this recommendation is providing only preliminary advice in line with his role as a member of the Queen Victoria Market Advisory Committee to attempt to begin to safeguard the health and interests of at risk traders in the market.
He accepts no personal liability for the recommendations provided above.
It remains the responsibility of QVM Market management and Market owners to carry out further studies and evaluations to establish appropriate safety requirements and measures that require implementation.

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