Preventing Heat Stress In The Workplace
McGuinty Government Urges Workplaces To Prevent Heat Stress
Ontario is encouraging employers and workers to learn how to protect themselves from heat stress.
Heat alerts have been issued across much of the province. The harm caused by too much heat can become a significant problem in many workplaces. Workers and their employers must take steps to protect themselves from the effects of this hazard.
When heat is combined with other factors like hard physical work, fluid loss, fatigue or some medical conditions, it can lead to illness, disability and even death. Heat stress can affect anyone, including the young and fit, and can be a concern in many workplaces.
Symptoms of heat stress can include excessive sweating, headache, rashes, cramping, dizziness and fainting.
Some of the ways workers can protect themselves from heat stress include:
- Drinking lots of fluids to replace perspiration. Try drinking a cup of water about every 20 minutes
- Avoiding working in direct sunlight (to reduce heat gain and risk of sunburn)
- Reducing the pace of work
- Increasing the number of breaks and taking breaks in cool or shaded areas
- Scheduling heavy work for cooler periods
- Wearing light-coloured and/or light-weight clothing
- Reducing the physical demands of work by using aides, e.g. hoists, etc.
- Workers most at risk for heat stress include those in hot environments, such as smelters, furnaces, bakeries and out of doors during the summer.
- Prolonged exposure to heat stress can lead to heat stroke, a life-threatening condition.
- The victims of heat stroke are often unable to notice the symptoms, and their survival may depend on co-workers' ability to identify symptoms and to seek immediate medical assistance.
“Workers and their employers need to take steps now to ensure they are aware of the dangers of heat stress, and know how to prevent them. Employers have a duty to protect their employees from all workplace hazards, including heat and hot weather.”