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Working at Night to Avoid Heat

Working at night is a potential heat stress control that eliminates solar radiation and generally exposes workers to conditions better suited to dissipating body heat. We have advocated for consideration of night shift in work planning for some time (see this ABC news article), and the case for working at night is getting stronger. It's not just us, night shift is a heat stress control that's becoming more widespread across Northern Australia at this time of year, as detailed by this ABC News example from December 2022. In that article, mango harvesting at night was profiled, with one of the workers commenting "[Night harvest] is good. It's better than day [harvesting] because the daytime is too hot." Whereas the farm manager stated "It also means it's cooler for the people who are working out here at night, [which] increases their productivity and their comfort."  


Figure 1. Harvesting mangoes at night. Image Credit: ABC Rural, Daniel Fitzgerald


Aside from potentially introducing or amplifying other hazards, perhaps the biggest issue for night shift is the ability of workers to sleep during the hottest part of the day. Worker access to climate controlled facilities are therefore another consideration when evaluating the suitability of working at night. 

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