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 work day, taking safety measures 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. To increase comfort during periods of peak temperature, Safe Work Manitoba recommends wearing clothing that is lightweight, light-coloured and loose-fitting; using fans indoors; taking rest breaks and drinking cool beverages; focusing on lighter activities whenever possible; and leaving 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.
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; and build up tolerance to high temperatures.
Safe Work Manitoba recommends following 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.
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, said Safe Work Manitoba.