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High temperatures can cause excessive stress on the body, especially when combined with high humidity, direct sun and/or a lack of appropriate air movement. These factors can overwhelm the body's ability to cool itself, a condition known as heat strain. It's essential for workers exposed to heat during their work day to know how to recognize and respond to incidents of heat stress exposure, and to take necessary safety measures to stay healthy and comfortable. Manitoba employers should also be aware of their responsibilities when it comes to addressing heat stress in their workplaces.
We tend to associate heat stress with working outdoors; however, indoor workers can also be at risk. Indoor workers who work in hot environments (e.g., foundry workers), or in buildings without air conditioning (especially during the summer), should also take action to protect themselves from the heat.In any work environment with high temperatures, you should monitor yourself and co-workers, particularly new co-workers, for signs of heat illness, exhaustion or heat stroke.
Excessive heat stress on the body may result in one or more of the following symptoms of heat strain:
Dizziness/discomfort on the job caused by heat stress can also lead to incidents and injuries.
Pay attention to individuals displaying symptoms of sudden and severe fatigue, nausea, dizziness or light-headedness, rapid breathing and/or a sustained rapid heart rate.
If you see someone showing signs that they are struggling in the heat:
Call 911 immediately if you think someone may be experiencing heat stroke.
To prevent heat strain from occurring:
The Workplace Safety and Health Regulation (Part 4.12) requires that employers implement safe work procedures and control measures to address the risk to safety and health posed by heat or cold.
Depending upon the humidex, there are also guidelines in the standards that the Workplace Safety and Health Act follows (based on ACGIH threshold limit value or TVL for heat stress) that dictate the length of rest periods (in cool settings) per hour of work, based on how strenuous the work is.
Manitoba employers should work with their safety and health committees and/or workers to determine heat strain prevention procedures. Depending on the workplace, general measures include:
In addition to general controls, specific measures for hot workplaces or at-risk workers can include:
SAFE Work Manitoba, a division of the WCB, is the public agency dedicated to the prevention of workplace injury and illness.
Working with our partners in the safety community, we provide prevention education, safety programming, consulting and strategic direction to create a genuine culture of safety for all Manitobans.