Employers and workers need to take special precautions when working outside in hot weather.
What can start as heat stress can quickly become heat stroke, which is a life-threatening condition. Knowing the signs of heat stress and taking action early can prevent a heat-related injury and even save a life.
“With summer temperatures finally here, we need to make sure those working outside take precautions to protect themselves and others. Extreme exposure to heat can result in illness, hospital visits and worse if we aren’t attentive. We want to make sure Albertans return home safe and healthy after a long day of work, and can spend time enjoying the sunny weather with their families.”
~Christina Gray, Minister of Labour
Early signs of heat stress need immediate treatment. The first steps are drinking cool water to combat dehydration, and getting out of direct sun.
Watch for headache, dizziness, fatigue, heavy sweating, muscle cramps and changes to breathing and pulse rate. These symptoms can progress to heat stroke, which needs immediate medical attention.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to take all reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of their workers. Employers can:
- Provide sufficient cool drinking water.
- Create a cooling station where workers can rest.
- Reduce physical activity, for example, through extra breaks.
- Acclimatize workers by gradually increasing outdoor work.
- Try to direct work to a cooler, shaded area, or schedule physically demanding jobs for cooler times of the day.
Workers can call Occupational Health and Safety at 1-866-415-8690 if they feel their workplace is unsafe due to the hot weather.