High temperatures prompt heat stress alert

WorkSafeBC is warning employers and workers of an increased risk of developing symptoms of heat stress and heat stroke.

With temperatures in the Okanagan Valley forecast to remain well-above the seasonal average through the weekend, WorkSafeBC is alerting employers and workers of an increased risk of developing symptoms of heat stress and heat stroke.

Workers in the construction, transportation and forestry sectors comprised the majority of the 27 time-loss claims we had in BC last year,” said Shawn Mitton, WorkSafeBC’s Regional Prevention Manager, South Okanagan-Kootenay.

But it’s important to remember anyone working outside is potentially at risk.”

Heat stress occurs when your internal temperature increases faster than the body can cool itself.

Symptoms include excess sweating, dizziness and nausea.

If not addressed quickly, additional symptoms such as heat cramps, or potentially lethal heat stroke can rapidly develop.

Prevention of heat stress:

  • Drink plenty of water (one glass every 20 minutes).
  • Wear light-coloured, loose fitting clothing made of breathable fabric.
  • Take rest breaks in a cool well ventilated area. Allow your body to cool down before restarting your work.
  • Do the hardest physical work during the coolest part of the day.
  • Know your personal risk factors: medications, skin disorders, sleep deprivation, poor physical fitness, pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Know the signs and symptoms.

WorkSafeBC requires employers to conduct heat stress assessments.

As appropriate, employers must have a heat stress mitigation plan and are required to provide personal protective equipment, education and training in recognizing the symptoms of heat stress and heat stroke.

Workers are required to participate in monitoring conditions, and checking co-workers for symptoms.

Employers and workers can go to: Preventing Heat Stress at Work online at http://www.worksafebc.com or contact the WorkSafeBC Prevention Line with questions or concerns: 1-888-621-7233.