Gateway Gazette

Keeping Cool When the Temperature Heats Up

Proper safety precautions will help protect Albertans from health risks when working outdoors as a heat wave hits parts of the province.

Extreme temperatures are a potential workplace hazard. The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to take all reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of their workers.

“As the hottest days of summer approach, so do the dangers of working outside. Knowing how to work safely in hot weather can prevent heat-related injuries. Employers must take steps to protect the health of their workers and save lives.”

Christina Gray, Minister of Labour

Employers and workers should be aware of the early signs of heat stress and treat it right away. These include:

  • headache
  • dizziness and fatigue
  • dehydration
  • heavy sweating
  • muscle cramps
  • changes to breathing and pulse rate

These symptoms can progress to heat stroke, a life-threatening condition requiring immediate medical attention.

Employers can keep workers safe by:

  • providing plenty of cool drinking water
  • reducing physical activity, changing the work location to a cooler, shaded area and creating a cooling station where workers can rest
  • using a work/rest schedule with extra breaks if needed
  • allowing workers to acclimatize by gradually increasing the time they spend working outdoors
  • scheduling physically demanding jobs for cooler times of the day

Employees have the right to refuse work if they feel it is unsafe. Albertans can call Occupational Health and Safety at 1-866-415-8690 if they feel their workplace is unsafe due to the hot weather.

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