Blog Post #1084 – Heat-Stress Prevention Urged in Prince Edward Island

Blog Post #1084 – Heat-Stress Prevention Urged in Prince Edward Island

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

The Worker’s Compensation Board (WCB) of Prince Edward Island issued a heat stress reminder on July 5, 2019 urging employers to take precautions to protect workers.

“While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for all workers and workplaces, being aware of the risks of heat -related illness is an important first step,” Danny Miller, Dir. of Occupational Health & Safety in Charlottetown, said in a statement.” Employers need to recognize a risk and take reasonable steps reduce him. Workers must be made aware of the risks and be encouraged to speak up when there is a heat or sun-related concern.”

Heat stress refers to a variety of heat related disorders like heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be fatal. Symptoms include weakness, muscle pain, light-headedness, nausea and high body temperatures. Environmental hazards like exposure to heat, high humidity and limited airflow can also cause heat stress. Contributing factors include the worker’s hydration level, clothing and physical exertion.

Preventative steps to avoid heat stress include drinking plenty of water and limiting sun exposure between 11 AM and 4 PM when ultraviolet rays are at its highest. Applying sunscreen, having adequate ventilation in the workplace, taking breaks in the shade or an air-conditioned space, ensuring workers safety by providing adequate supervision and using a buddy system to watch for signs of heat stress among co-workers are also recommended.

“If you experience initial signs of heat stress, remove yourself from the environment, drink water, monitor the symptoms and advise someone in case you need further assistance or medical treatment,” the statement adds.

My opinion

The Ontario government has an excellent page that covers the following topic, “Managing Heat Stress at Work”. I have listed this below.

Overview

Working when it’s hot puts stress on your body’s cooling system. When ignored, it can lead to heat-related illness, disability and even death. This can happen to anybody.

Heat stress can get worse when combined with:

  • physical work
  • loss of fluids
  • fatigue
  • a pre-existing medical condition

Causes of Heat Stress

Factors that can cause heat stress include:

  • working in direct sunlight in the summer months
  • humidity in the workplace (more than 50% relative humidity)
  • working in certain workplaces such as foundries, smelters, chemical plants, bakeries and commercial kitchens
  • working in mines, especially deep mines with geothermal gradients
  • working in mines with equipment that radiates heat

Heat Cramps

Muscle pain in overworked areas such as arms, legs or stomach caused by a salt imbalance from heavy sweating. This can happen at work or later at home.

Treatment

You should:

  • not take salt tablets
  • move to a cool area
  • loosen clothing
  • gently massage and stretch affected muscles
  • drink cool, slightly salted water or a beverage with electrolytes

Heat Exhaustion

Caused by the breakdown of your body’s cooling system. Symptoms can include:

  • heavy sweating
  • cool, moist skin
  • body temperature above 38°C
  • weak pulse
  • low blood pressure
  • tired and weak
  • nausea and vomiting
  • very thirsty
  • panting or breathing rapidly
  • blurred vision

Treatment

Do not leave the person alone and:

  • get medical attention
  • move to a cool area
  • loosen or remove clothing
  • drink and spray cool water

Prevention

You should:

  • reduce activity levels
  • reduce heat exposure
  • drink fluids regularly
  • check on your co-worker(s) for any irregular behaviour

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is caused by the breakdown of your body’s cooling system and has a high risk of irreversible damage to body organs and organ systems. Some people with heat stroke lose the ability to sweat and are not very physically active when ill (classic heat stroke), while others experience heat stroke while still sweating and active (exertional heat stroke).

Symptoms include:

  • high body temperature (above 40°C)
  • a fast pulse
  • headache or dizziness
  • passing out
  • weakness, confusion or acting strangely
  • hot, dry, red skin (classic heat stroke) or profusely sweating (exertional heat stroke)

Treatment

You should:

  • call an ambulance
  • remove excess clothing
  • drink and spray cool water

Prevention

You should:

  • reduce activity levels
  • reduce heat exposure
  • drink fluids regularly
  • check on your co-worker(s) for any irregular behaviour

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs, including “Heat Stress”. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

 

 

Dan
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