The Dangers of Heat Stress in the Workplace

“Heat stress can happen when hot, humid conditions and physical activity overcomes your body’s natural cooling system. You might suffer cramps and fainting, or even serious heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke can kill quickly” says the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

The potential impacts of heat stress you may be wondering what types of jobs can be affected by heat stress. According to WSPS Occupational Hygiene Consultant Michael Puccini, “Any job that causes your body temperature to rise has the potential to cause heat stress. Even jobs carried out in air-conditioned environments.”

There are a variety of ways to ensure workers keep safe from heat stress. It should be a priority to train workers to recognize the symptoms of heat stress in their co-workers, in themselves and understand how to take action.

Signs and symptoms of heat stress

You may experience the following:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble focusing
  • Blurry vision

Heat stress can lead to heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heart attack, and many other physical health side effects. Not to mention it can also be damaging to profits with disability costs, lost productivity, and penalties and fines.

                                            How you can protect your workers from heat stress

Sun-related heat stress can be prevented with simple steps that we will cover below. As for indoor heat stress it can occur anytime a body temperature rises and the body has a hard time cooling itself. This can occur almost anywhere, even in cooler temperatures. If your protective clothing does not allow your body to get rid of heat there is a much higher chance of experiencing heat stress. Here are six cost-effective prevention tips:

  1. Hydrate: Before activity starts workers should drink up to 16 ounces of fluid. Then drink 8 ounces every 20 minutes while working.
  2. Adapt to the heat gradually: For new workers, there should be a 20 percent increase of time in the heat for each day. Workers already used to these conditions can increase exposure slightly faster, but 4 days out of the heat means re-acclimation will be needed.
  3. Drink flavored water. Plain water does not quench thirst as much as flavored water. Workers are more likely to consume a larger amount of water when it is flavored.
  4. Don’t wear a hat. It reduces the amount of heat expelled through the head. Workers who are operating in direct sunlight should wear a visor instead.
  5. Wear your Personal Protective Equipment no matter what the temperature. If workers find it uncomfortable they should take frequent breaks. They won’t be protected from other hazards if they remove their PPE.
  6. Wear synthetics loose and thin fabrics. Fabrics like cotton absorb sweat, causing less heat to expel from the body. Loose and thin synthetic fabrics will keep the skin cool, aiding the bodies efforts in cooling.

 

 

“By working with stakeholders to evaluate the WAH standards, we will help ensure construction workers are protected on the job and will return home safely at the end of each workday,” said Dr. Cameron Mustard, president and senior scientist, Institute for Work and Health.

Advanced Training & Consulting Offers Training on Health & Safety

What kinds of safety training courses related to Health & Safety do we offer here at Advanced Consulting & Training? We serve Ottawa, GTA and much of Ontario with a variety of course options, including:

Mandatory Safety Awareness

Health and Safety Representative

Competent Supervisor

 

Contact us today to find out how Advanced Consulting & Training can help you with a safe & proactive Health & Safety Program.