Workplaces will struggle to provide employees with safe working environments as the country's temperatures rise due to the effects of climate change, new research shows.
The report, released by Australia Institute's Centre for Future Work, detailed how existing workplace safety laws and regulations don't account for the future increase in hot and extreme weather days.
Key among the concerns was the increased risk of heat stress. The associated symptoms - dehydration, nausea, dizziness, fatigue and stress - could lead to a higher chance of workplace accidents, resulting in serious injury or death.
"Workers say that employers do not want work to stop even when heat stress risk is very high, and that employers prioritise productivity over their health and safety," the report read.
"The hazardous heatwaves, air quality, and bushfire smoke over the recent summer has emphasised that current OHS regulations are ill prepared for the impacts of climate change."
Those working outdoors, indoors without temperature controls and ventilation, moving between different climates, and those in emergency services were most at risk, the report found.
Report co-author, Dr Elizabeth Humphrys, said recent bushfires showed just how unprepared many workplaces were in light of extreme weather events.
"Last year's devastating Black Summer bushfires highlighted that for many workers across Australia, appropriate policies and plans are not always in place to ensure that they are protected from dangerous heat stress related conditions that could cause illness or injury to themselves or others," Dr Humphrys said.
"Workers need to be afforded greater protections to ensure their health and safety are paramount in extreme heat conditions. Our research shows that current workplace conditions are woefully inadequate, while climate change will only serve to make conditions worse.
"To protect workers and the wider community, not only must policymakers act to mitigate the impacts of heat stress, but they must also act on the causes of the climate heating, itself."
The report calls for federal and state governments to review the potential impacts for workers and develop new regulatory frameworks to provide employees with climate change-specific protections.
"Governments need to establish clear and accessible occupational health and safety pathways around heat stress, which empower workers to take mitigating action without fear of reprisal," the report read.