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Heat safety is paramount while working outside in 30-degree temperatures: Worksafe BC

With another heatwave on the horizon in Northern BC, WorkSafe BC has a few helpful tips for working outside.

Workers are encouraged to drink plenty of fluids and to take breaks in cool areas while employers should make changes to work practices.

“Keep an eye on Environment Canada to monitor upcoming work but then take a look at the work that we’re asking of those employees with an attempt to do the hardest work in the coolest parts of the day before 11 AM and possibly after 3pm,” says Dan Strand, Director of Prevention Field Services.

He adds there is an easy solution for both parties if they are caught out in the excessive sunlight.

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“Take those breaks more frequently, take a look at the heat outside and think about what you can do to get under the glaring sun if you are a landscaper, welder or longshore worker because those are the occupations where we are seeing the most claims.”

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include excessive sweating, dizziness, and nausea – if that’s not detected it will enter into stage two where workers can experience exhaustion, cramping and possibly death.

In 2017, 30 claims were accepted for work-related injuries caused by heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Specific tips for employers and workers include:

Employers:

  • Monitor heat conditions and require workers not to work alone;
  • Ensure there is adequate first-aid coverage and emergency procedures are in place;
  • Make physical modifications to facilities, equipment, processes to reduce exposure;
  • Change work practices and policies to limit the risk;
  • Determine appropriate work-rest cycles; when a worker feels ill it may be too late;
  • Rotate work activities or use additional workers to reduce exposure; and
  • Establish cooling areas with shade and water.

Workers:

  • Drink plenty of water (one glass every 20 minutes);
  • Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabric such as cotton;
  • Take rest breaks in a cool, well-ventilated area;
  • Do hard physical work during the coolest parts of the day, before 11 a.m. and after 3 p.m;
  • Know your personal risk factors such as medications and any pre-existing conditions; and
  • Check the signs and symptoms for yourself and co-workers.

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