RICHMOND, B.C.- WorkSafeBC is reminding workers and employers to be mindful of the dangers of heat stress in elevated summer temperatures, which can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion symptoms excess sweating, muscle cramps, dizziness and fainting while indicators of heat stroke include an increased breathing rate, seizures, confusion, cessation of sweating and the possibility of cardiac arrest.
“Outdoor work increases in the summer months, and both employers and workers need to be aware of the dangers of sun exposure and heat stress. Last year in B.C., there were 38 accepted claims for work-related injuries caused by heat stress – and these are preventable injuries,” WorkSafeBC senior manager of prevention field services Barry Nakahara said.
Employers are encouraged to prevent heat stress by monitoring conditions and ensuring workers don’t work alone, ensure first aid and emergency procedures are at the ready, physically modify equipment, processes and facilities to reduce heat exposure, and change work policies to limit risk.
Employers should also determine appropriate work-rest cycles because “when a worker feels ill it may be too late,” a WorkSafeBC release stated, and set up cooling areas with water and shade.
Workers should drink at least one glass of water every 20 minutes, wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabric and rest in cool, well-ventilated areas.
Workers should always do hard physical work during the coolest parts of the day before 11 a.m. and after 3 p.m. ad check for symptoms both individually and with co-workers.