We are currently in the middle of summer and it's a hot one! As Canadians, we slug through our crazy cold winters waiting for those first warm summer days only to be hit with the humidex! Regardless, summer is the time to take a little breather, get away with your family, and enjoy the beautiful weather. Unfortunately if you are not lucky enough to work from a cottage on a lake all summer long, you might have to deal with working in workplaces that can get very hot...quickly. As June quickly passes, July and August can get difficult to handle in your workplace. Temperatures rising to almost 40 degrees can make any working conditions unbearable, especially if your work already involves hot work or travelling outdoors. Your employees are now exposed to a greater risk to heat exhaustion and even worse, heat stroke. Heat exhaustion is caused by dehydration, direct exposure to the sun, and high humidity and can quickly lead to heat stroke. According toMedicineNet.com "Heat stroke occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature. The body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106 F (41.1 C) or higher within 10-15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given."
As an employer, it is your responsibility to keep your employees protected from heat stress. Be aware of the signs that might lead to heat exhaustion (nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, headache, muscle cramps, dizziness), and be quick with taking action. Heat exhaustion will eventually lead to heat stroke which can be identified with different symptoms (high body temperature, the absence of sweating, difficulty breathing, hallucinations, and confusion). Remember to keep your eye out and call for help right away.
Have you taken all the necessary precautions to prevent heat stress in your workplace? Check out the tips below for some ideas on how to keep your employees working hard even on the hottest day of the year!
For more information on preventing heat stress in the workplace, we encourage you to take a look at the following publications:
Ontario Ministry of Labour - Heat Stress Guideline - http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/gl_heat.php
Ontario WSIB - Guide to Preventing Heat Stress -http://www.wsib.on.ca/files/Content/PreventionHSGuide/HeatStressGuide.pdf
WorkSafe Alberta - Best Practices for Working Safety in the Heat and Cold -http://www.employment.alberta.ca/documents/WHS/WHS-PUB_gs006.pdf
WorkSafe BC - Preventing Heat Stress at Work -http://www.worksafebc.com/publications/health_and_safety/by_topic/assets/pdf/heat_stress.pdf
Québec - CSST - Guide de prévention des coups de chaleur -http://www.csst.qc.ca/publications/200/Pages/dc_200_16184.aspx
For more information, visit the Occupational Health and Safety Law blog at www.OccupationalHealthandSafetyLaw.com
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