Ontario Government Reminding Workers To Avoid Heat Stress By Staying Cool At Work



    Hot Summer Season Puts Indoor And Outdoor Workers At Risk

    QUEEN'S PARK, June 12 /CNW/ - The Ontario government is reminding
employers and workers to be aware of the occupational health and safety
dangers of heat stress and to protect themselves at work, Labour Minister
Steve Peters said today.
    "As we approach the summer season, we can expect an increase in heat and
humidity which puts both indoor and outdoor workers at risk," said Peters.
"Employers and workers need to work together to be aware of the symptoms of
heat stress and put the necessary safeguards in place to protect themselves
against it."
    When heat is combined with other stresses like hard physical work, fluid
loss, fatigue or some medical conditions, it can lead to heat-related illness,
disability and even death. Heat stress can affect anyone, including the young
and fit, and can be a concern in many workplaces. For indoor workers, major
sources of heat are furnaces, bakeries, smelters, foundries and other hot
equipment. For outdoor workers, direct sunlight is the main source of heat.

    
    Symptoms of heat stress can include:
    -   Rashes
    -   Sunburn
    -   Cramping
    -   Fainting
    -   Excessive sweating
    -   Headache and dizziness.

    If you are working in a hot environment, you should drink lots of fluids
to replace perspiration. Try to drink a cup of water about every 20 minutes,
and when possible, try to:

    -   Avoid working in direct sunlight
    -   Reduce the pace of work
    -   Increase the number of breaks and take breaks in cool or shaded areas
    -   Schedule heavy work for cooler periods of the day
    -   Wear light-coloured and/or light-weight clothing
    -   Reduce the physical demands of work by using aids, e.g. hoists etc.
    

    Employers have a duty under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)
to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of
a worker. This includes ensuring a worker is protected from heat stress by
developing and implementing hot environment policies and procedures. For more
information, please see the ministry's Heat Stress Guideline at
www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/guidelines/gl_heat.html.
    "Heat stress is a constant and important workplace health and safety
issue," said Peters. "Employers and workers should work together to ensure
they are working smart and staying cool."

    
    Disponible en français

                             www.labour.gov.on.ca


    Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                 HEAT STRESS
    

    What is Heat Stress?

    Heat stress occurs when a combination of hot, humid conditions and
physical activity strains, and perhaps overcomes, the body's natural cooling
system. It can cause symptoms ranging from cramps and fainting to serious heat
exhaustion or even heat stroke. Heat stroke is a form of heat stress that can
kill quickly.
    Environmental factors that affect heat stress include air temperature,
humidity, air movement and sources of radiant heat such as working in the sun
or near large hot objects. Work task factors that affect heat stress are the
physical demands of the job and the frequency and length of breaks.
    Heat stress can happen in many workplaces. Furnaces, bakeries, smelters,
foundries and heavy equipment are significant sources of heat inside
workplaces. For outdoor workers, direct sunlight is the main source of heat.
In mines, geothermal gradients and equipment contribute to heat exposure.
Humidity in workplaces also contributes to heat stress.

    
    Symptoms of heat stress can include:
    -   Rashes
    -   Sunburn
    -   Cramping
    -   Fainting
    -   Excessive sweating
    -   Headache
    -   Dizziness.

    What can workers do to protect themselves against heat stress?

    Some of the things workers can do to protect themselves from heat stress
include:
    -   Drink lots of fluids to replace perspiration. Try to drink a cup of
        water about every 20 minutes
    -   Avoid working in direct sunlight
    -   Reduce the pace of work
    -   Increase the number of breaks and take breaks in cool or shaded areas
    -   Schedule heavy work for cooler periods
    -   Wear light-coloured and/or light-weight clothing
    -   Reduce the physical demands of work by using aids, e.g. hoists etc.
    

    What can employers do to protect workers against heat stress?

    Employers have a duty under the general duty clause of the Occupational
Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to take every precaution reasonable in the
circumstances to protect workers. This includes developing hot environment
policies and procedures to protect workers in hot environments due to hot
processes or hot weather.

    
    Some of the things employers can do to protect workers from heat stress
include:
    -   Reduce the temperature and humidity through air cooling
    -   Provide air-conditioned rest areas
    -   Increase the frequency and length of rest breaks
    -   Schedule strenuous jobs for cooler times of the day
    -   Provide cool drinking water near workers and remind them to drink a
        cup every 20 minutes or so
    -   Assign additional workers or slow down the pace of work
    -   Train workers to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stress and
        start a "buddy system" since people are not likely to notice their
        own symptoms.

    For more detailed information on heat stress, consult the ministry's Heat
Stress Guideline at www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/guidelines/gl_heat.html.


    For further information:

    Public enquiries:
    1-800-268-8013

    Media enquiries:
    Belinda Sutton
    Ministry of Labour
    416-326-7405


    Disponible en français

                             www.labour.gov.on.ca
    





For further information:

For further information: Public enquiries: 1-800-268-8013; Media
enquiries: Susan McConnell, Minister's Office, (416) 326-7710; Belinda Sutton,
Ministry of Labour, (416) 326-7405

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