Summer in Ontario can get hot! We Ontarians know that it’s the humidity that makes it especially sticky and uncomfortable. While it’s uncomfortable for some, the heat and humidity can be dangerous for workers. They’re at risk for injuries and illnesses resulting from heat stress.
Risk Amplified: The Humidex Factor
Have you ever heard someone say, “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity!”? Well, there’s some wisdom there when it comes to managing heat hazards. Humidex is short for humidity index and describes how hot it feels when the effect of humidity is combined with the current temperature. This is important for outdoor workers because a very hot day reaching 32°C or 33°C is remarkable. But when the humidity is factored in, these temps can feel much higher.
Everyone is at Risk
Workers are at higher risk for heat stress illness and injuries when it’s hot. Any indoor workplace can become too hot for employees to work safely, especially if the air-conditioning is not working properly, or not present at all. As well, running a lot of machinery, ovens, or other heat-generating appliances can increase the risk of heat stress. High-risk workplaces include:
- Boiler rooms
- Machine manufacturing facilities
- Facilities that use any source of heat for production
Working outside during heat advisories or warnings is not recommended, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Construction workers, agricultural workers, recreational staff, and landscapers are all at higher risk for heat stress during the summer months.
What is Heat Stress?
Heat stress occurs when the body is unable to release excess heat. When the body is in this state, the core temperature increases, and the heart rate quickens. When individuals experience heat stress, they are at risk for heat-related ailments that include minor afflictions such as heat rash and cramps, and more serious ailments such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Managing Heat Hazards
Prevent heat exhaustion and heatstroke by ensuring workers never reach the stage of heat stress. To do that, you need to ensure you manage the hazards associated with heat in your workplace, just as you would any other hazard. Strategies include:
- Staying hydrated when the temperature rises
- Allowing cooling breaks as frequently as every hour for employees who work outdoors or in hot factories and kitchens
- Providing heat stress awareness training for all employees, including the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC)
- Wearing loose-fitting lightweight clothes and sun hats
- Taking it easy or moving the work to a cooler area during the hottest time of the day (between 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm)
Workers should participate in training aimed at ensuring they understand the risks and hazards associated with working in extremely hot temperatures. This training would also cover the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness and injuries – from heat stress to more severe heat stroke – as well as basic first aid.
When: June 20th & 21st, 2022
Where: St. Thomas, Ontario in the BEST Safety Training Classroom
BEST Safety Training Can Help
BEST Safety Training offers First Aid Training. We also offer an online course in Heat Stress Awareness for your safety and convenience, as well as more general Heat Stress Online Overview. Let the BEST Safety Training company take care of your training needs.
Don’t forget to download this month’s free safety calendar.