OHS Canada Magazine

Workers reminded to take precautions in summer heat

Safe Work Manitoba shares tips to beat heat stress


Extreme summer temperatures can cause reactions ranging from discomfort to serious illness in most people.

For workers who are exposed to the heat over the course of a workday, taking safety precautions is an important part of staying healthy and comfortable.

High daytime temperatures can make it challenging to work outdoors or in buildings without air conditioning.

Here are some ways to increase comfort during periods of peak temperature, as presented by Safe Work Manitoba in Winnipeg:

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  • wear clothing that is lightweight, light-coloured and loose-fitting
  • use fans indoors
  • take rest breaks and drink cool beverages
  • focus on lighter activities whenever possible and leave physically demanding tasks for cooler periods.

More serious situations can lead to heat stress, a condition in which the body is unable to control its internal temperature.

The following symptoms can result:

  • heat illness – headaches, dizziness, upset stomach and vomiting
  • heat exhaustion – fatigue, weakness, moist skin, rapid and weak pulse
  • heat stroke – hot dry skin, a rapid, strong pulse, mental confusion, unconsciousness, seizures and convulsions.

Take these steps to prevent heat stress:

  • monitor yourself and your co-workers
  • take breaks and remember to drink when you’re thirsty
  • work in the shade, away from heat sources
  • build up tolerance to high temperatures.

Follow these measures to treat someone who is experiencing heat stress:

  • move the person to a cool, shaded area.
  • loosen or remove heavy clothing
  • provide cool drinking water
  • call 911 immediately.

Where working in hot weather is a concern, employers should work with their safety and health committees, worker representatives or workers to create a hot weather plan and determine work procedures for periods of elevated temperature.