Premier’s warns employers 'work outdoors a risk' for staff
PREMIER Annastacia Palaszczuk has urged employers to look after their staff over the next few days amid unprecedented air pollution in Brisbane, Ipswich and the Gold Coast caused by smoke haze drifting up from the deadly NSW fires.
"We have not seen conditions like this before," Ms Palaszczuk said. "It is extremely unusual.
"If you do not need to go outside for extended periods of time, please do not do so.
"If people are working long shifts outdoors, it may not be the right thing to do for the next couple of days."
Ms Palaszczuk said the smoke haze was expected to ease tomorrow before drifting back on Wednesday.
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young urged employees who work outdoors to be mindful of the risks.
Dr Young urged them to consider shorter looking at sorter shifts or alternative work while the air quality remained very low.
"It's up to workers to work with their employers about what their individual risks are," she said.
Residents in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Ipswich were today warned to stay indoors as smoke continues to blanket the major cities.
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young has today upgraded the health warning after the air quality deteriorated overnight.
"This is quite unprecedented," Dr Young said, urging all people who do not need to be outside to stay indoors, preferably in airconditioning.
She said Queensland Health had already started to see an increase in Queenslanders suffering respiratory issues.
Dr Young said the poor air quality could last for up to 48 hours.
"Overnight we saw a deterioration in the quality of the air, particularly in Brisbane the Gold Coast and Ipswich," Dr Young said.
"Yesterday the air quality was poor across a lot of Queensland. It is now at a very poor level.
"There are other parts of the state that also have poor quality but the air quality here now in Brisbane and the Gold Coast and Ipswich is at a level that I am recommending if you can stay indoors, that's what you should be doing.
"That's the trigger for when I believe it's important to start advising everyone to consider the health consequences of being outside.
"We know that for the next 24 to 48 hours and probably longer than that we are going to see very poor air quality.
"If it was short time most people with normal lung function would be able to manage it but given we know this is going to go on for more than 24 hours, it's important that everyone consider their risk.
"You definitely shouldn't be doing any major physical exertion outside.
"This is not the time to go for a run.
"If you don't need to be outdoors, it is safest to be indoors."
She said schools would also be told to minimise any outdoor activities for students.
Thick smoke from a number of bushfires burning across the southeast has engulfed the southeast.
The Department of Environment and Science's live air data rates air quality conditions as very poor across Brisbane and into the Gold Coast.
The worst affected area is Southport, but the Brisbane CBD, Woolloongabba, Wynnum, Springwood and most surrounding suburbs are also rated very poor.
Air quality is rated on the site by measuring airborne particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter, which be hazardous to human health or cause a nuisance when present in the air at elevated levels.
They are capable of penetrating the lower airways of humans and can cause possible negative health effects.
About 300 firefighters are currently battling 50 fires across Queensland as the Bureau of Meteorology warns of strong winds and high temperatures hitting Queensland this week with no chance of rain to offer reprieve.
BOM meteorologist Dan Narramor said the smoke haze showed no signs of dispersing anytime soon.
"We have widespread smoke in southeast Queensland with east-south-easterly winds dragged it from fires in NSW and southeast Queensland as well," he said.
"The smoke should hang around for most of the day before a north-easterly wind change later today and the winds should clear the smoke tomorrow."
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said about 100 vehicles and 300 firefighters were currently on scene at fires across the state this morning.
The Darling Downs and Granite Belt regions are tomorrow expected to reach severe fire danger rating, with the southeast coast and Wide Bay and Burnett regions also reaching severe by Wednesday.
Tuesday is expected to be the worst day with strong and gusty north/north westerly winds.
"Winds will be about 20 to 30km/h with gusty winds up to 50km on Tuesday," Mr Narramor said.
"There won't be any chance of rain for the next week but there could be a chance of a thunderstorm on the weekend.
"On Wednesday there will be a strong wind change and with a cold front with winds dragging smoke but it won't be as bad as Tuesday."
Mr Narramor said temperatures were six to 10 degrees above average on Tuesday and Wednesday with today seeing low 30s, and mid to high 30s for Tuesday and Wednesday.
BOM said haze that blanketed Brisbane this morning was forecast to be the worst this week and would ease this afternoon.
A strong wind warning was this morning issued for Fraser Island, Sunshine Coast Waters, Moreton Bay and Gold Coast Waters.