WorkSafeBC has issued a reminder to employers and workers about the risk of developing heat stress when working outdoors.
If left untreated, heat stress can lead to injuries from heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
“Heat stress is a preventable injury, yet last year in B.C. there were 26 accepted claims for work-related heat stress injuries,” said Barry Nakahara, Senior Manager of Prevention Field Services at WorkSafeBC.
Heat stress occurs when your internal temperature increases faster than the body can cool itself.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include excess sweating, dizziness, fainting and muscle cramps, and symptoms of heat stroke include cessation of sweating, an increased breathing rate, confusion, seizures and even cardiac arrest.
Employers are required by WorkSafeBC to conduct heat stress assessments in order to prevent heat stress injuries.
Some measures that employers can take to prevent heat stress include:
- Changing work practices and policies to limit risk
- Monitoring heat conditions and requirements for workers to not work alone
- Establishing cooling areas with shade and water
- Ensuring there is adequate first-aid coverage and emergency procedures are in place
Workers can also prevent heat stress by taking measures such as:
- Keeping hydrated and drinking plenty of water (one glass every 20 minutes)
- Wearing light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabric, such as cotton
- Performing hard physical work during the coolest parts of the day, before 11 a.m. and after 3 p.m.