Hello, and welcome to our health and safety podcast.
Today, we're going to be discussing working in hot conditions and preventing heat stress.
As the weather heats up, employers and workers put their minds to keeping cool.
And, it's not only for comfort.
Working in hot conditions without taking proper measures to keep cool can lead to heat stress.
And that 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 may lead to serious consequences for the worker.
Even if you are young and fit, heat stress can affect you.
Heat exposure can happen in many workplaces.
Furnaces, bakeries, smelters, foundries and heat-generating equipment inside workplaces are significant sources of heat.
For outdoor workers, it's exposure to direct sunlight.
In mines, heat from surrounding rock and nearby equipment contributes to heat exposure.
Humidity in workplaces also contributes to heat stress.
Signs and symptoms of heat stress can include excessive sweating, headache, rashes, cramping, dizziness and fainting.
And, prolonged exposure can cause serious health effects such as heat stroke, which can be fatal.
In workplaces where there are hot processes that generate excessive heat, as an employer you must take steps to protect your workers.
This can include, where appropriate:
• Reducing the temperature and humidity through air cooling
• Providing air-conditioned rest areas
• Increasing the frequency and length of rest breaks
Other methods include:
• Scheduling strenuous jobs for cooler times of the day
• Providing cool drinking water near workers and remind them to drink a cup of water about every 20 minutes
• Assigning additional workers or slow down the pace of work
• Training workers to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stress and start a "buddy system" since people are not likely to notice their own symptoms
As a worker, there are also various actions you can take to protect yourself from heat stress.
• Drink lots of fluids to replace perspiration. Try to drink a cup of water about every 20 minutes - or more frequently - to stay hydrated
• Avoid working in direct sunlight to reduce heat gain and the risk of sunburn
• Reduce the pace of your work
• Increase the number of breaks and take breaks in cool or shaded areas
You can also:
• Schedule heavy work for cooler periods
• When working outdoors, wear light-coloured and/or light-weight clothing, preferably long-sleeve shirt and pants, and cover your head to prevent exposure to direct sunlight.
• Reduce the physical demands of work by using aids such as hoists and other mechanical equipment.
Many workplaces do not have so-called "hot processes" that generate heat.
Nevertheless, workers may still be at risk from excessive heat due to hot weather.
For these workplaces, a hot weather plan is appropriate.
A hot weather plan is a simplified heat stress control plan and should establish the implementation criteria, or "triggers," to put the plan into effect.
The criteria may include weather or environmental indicator triggers such as:
• A Humidex reaching or exceeding 35
• An Environment Canada Humidex advisory when the air temperature exceeds 30°C and Humidex exceeds 40
• Heat waves lasting three or more days of temperatures of 32ºC or more
• An Ontario Ministry of the Environment smog alert.
Generally speaking, plans related to hot weather should be in place between May 1 and September 30 of each year.
As Canadians, we look forward to our summers. We revel in the warm temperatures, especially after enduring one of our winters.
However, at the same time, we must be aware of the dangers posed by working in heat, and we must take measures to protect ourselves.
For more detailed information on heat stress in the workplace and how to deal with it, please go to our website.
Go to Ontario.ca - forward slash - heat stress - that's one word.
Once again, Ontario.ca - forward slash - heat stress - one word.
There you will find lots of information that can help you cope with excessive heat at work … or at play.
And that's it for this edition of our health and safety podcast.
Thank you for listening.