While many Albertans are enjoying the hot summer weather, those who work in the heat should take precautions to avoid health risks.
Your body needs time to adapt to working in hot weather. This process of acclimatization takes at least 4 to 7 working days. You should slowly increase the time you spend working outdoors over this time period to make sure you can work safely.
You should also be aware of the early signs of heat stress in yourself and your co-workers, so it can be treated right away:
- dizziness and fatigue;
- heavy sweating;
- muscle cramps; and,
- changes to breathing and pulse rate.
Heat stress can progress to heat stroke (elevated body temperature), which is a life-threatening condition requiring immediate medical attention.
“Hot weather can become a workplace hazard if you don’t take proper precautions. Take time to become acclimatized, stay hydrated, take your breaks and know the signs of heat stress. More than two million Albertans go to work each day, and I want them to work safely.” ~ Kyle Fawcett, Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour
The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to ensure the health and safety of workers at their work sites. Part 2 of the OHS Code requires employers to assess and control hazards their workers may be exposed to at the work site, including extreme heat and cold.
Employers can take further steps to protect workers by:
- reducing physical activity, changing the work location to a cooler shaded area, and creating a cooling station where workers can rest;
- allowing workers to acclimatize;
- scheduling more physically demanding jobs for the cooler times of the day; and,
- providing plenty of cool drinking water.
Read the OHS best practice guide Working Safely in the Heat and Cold and refer to the OHS Code for more information.
If you feel your workplace is unsafe due to the hot weather, call the OHS Contact Centre at 1-866-415-8690.