Preparing for High Temperatures in New Zealand’s Orchards


As we approach the summer season, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research has predicted that temperatures in New Zealand may soar to as high as 40 degrees Celsius. This level of heat, unusual for our country, poses unique challenges, especially for our orchard workers who may not be accustomed to such conditions. It’s important to prepare adequately as working in intense heat can strain the body significantly, potentially leading to heat-related illnesses or injuries, which can be severe if not addressed promptly.

In collaboration with the Industry Health & Safety Forum, we have identified several effective strategies to help mitigate the risks associated with working in high temperatures. These measures not only aid in preventing heat exhaustion and related health issues but also positively impact overall worker morale.

Key Measures for Heat Safety:

  1. Access to Water: Guaranteeing the availability of cool clean drinking water for workers is key in preventing dehydration. This ensures that workers can consistently hydrate themselves, especially important during periods of intense heat.
  2. Electrolyte Replenishment: Supplying workers with electrolyte sachets or syrups that can be added to their water offers an effective rehydration solution to prevent and manage dehydration resulting from heat exhaustion and exposure.
  3. Sun Sleeves for Workers: An affordable and sustainable option, sun sleeves incorporate sun-protection technology that actively cools the body as you sweat, adjusting dynamically to your body’s temperature for optimal cooling.
  4.  Wide Brim Mesh Bucket Hats: Equip workers with wide brim mesh bucket hats for dual benefits: effective sun protection and enhanced cooling. The mesh design promotes air circulation, keeping the head cool, while the wide brim offers ample sun coverage. These hats are also lighter than traditional heavy-duty options, ensuring comfort during extended use.
  5. Sunblock Availability: Providing portable sunblock bottles that can be easily attached to keyrings allows workers to have constant access to sun protection.
  6. Awareness of Heat Exhaustion Signs: Regularly communicate with your workers about the early signs of heat exhaustion to ensure early detection and prevention.
  7. Refreshing Ice Blocks: Distributing ice blocks can offer a quick and refreshing way to cool down.
  8. Adjusting Work Hours: Where possible, reschedule work times to avoid the peak heat periods of the day, thereby reducing direct exposure to extreme heat.

For further guidance and information on managing work in extreme heat conditions, please refer to these resources provided by WorkSafe, which are specifically tailored for businesses and workers in these situations.

By implementing these measures and staying informed, we can ensure a safer and more comfortable working environment for our orchard workers during the hot summer months.