Staying Cool When the Heat is On
McGuinty Government Urges Workplaces To Prevent Heat Stress
As the weather heats up, Ontario is encouraging workplaces to make every effort to prevent heat stress, which can lead to worker illness, disability and even death.
Working where it is hot puts stress on the body's cooling system. When heat is combined with other stresses such as hard physical work, fluid loss, fatigue or some medical conditions, it could lead to serious consequences for the worker.
Employers must take steps to protect their employees from the effects of this hazard. There are many things employers can do to protect workers from heat stress, including:
- Reducing the temperature and humidity through air cooling
- Providing air-conditioned rest areas
- Increasing the frequency and length of rest breaks
- Scheduling strenuous jobs for cooler times of the day
- Providing cool drinking water near workers
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.
- Workers most at risk for heat stress include those in hot environments - such as smelters, furnaces, bakeries - and those who work outside in 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.
“With the warmer weather now upon us, workplaces must do all they can to protect their workers from heat stress. By actively controlling heat stress, we can prevent workplace injury, illness and even deaths.”