Friday, July 08, 2005

Beware of Heat Stress in the Workplace

HRinfodesk � Canadian Payroll and Employment Law News

The dog days of summer are almost upon us. How is the temperature in your workplace? Is it comfortable? If your employees work in an area that is hot with poor air circulation, they are at risk for heat stress, a potentially dangerous health condition.


Various health studies and other forms of research indicate that heat stress is a set of conditions where the body is under stress from overheating. Conditions include heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat stroke and heat rash and symptoms include profuse sweating to dizziness, to cessation of sweating and collapse. High temperatures, heavy workloads, and the type of clothing worn can induce heat stress. Other heat stress factors are also significant. In addition to temperature, increased relative humidity, decreased air movement or lack of shading from direct heat (radiant temperature) can all increase the potential of heat stress.

Employees who experience heat stress may at first be confused or unable to concentrate, followed by more severe symptoms such as fainting and/or collapse. Employers must ensure supervisors/managers and employees are aware and know how to deal with heat stress when it occurs in the workplace. Heat stress may be a health and safety hazard found in the workplace, and employers must insure they have identified it as a possible health and safety issue and implemented measures to control this specific hazard.

If an employee does show heat stress symptoms, move them to a cool, shaded area, give him or her water and immediately contact the supervisor and first aid attendant (if one is available) while following procedures in the health and safety policy in respect to heat stress and first aid.

In addition, the article lists numerous helpful ways to avoid heat stroke. You can view the entire list here.

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