Herc How-To: Stay Cool While Working in Extreme Heat

how do i treat heat stroke

Be Cool: How to Beat Extreme Heat at Work

Hot weather isn’t the norm in Canada—But for a couple beautiful months a year, it actually gets hot outside. Even though we’re excited, this can be a safety issue sometimes.

Here are some tips that both employers and employees can use to keep cool, comfortable, and therefore safe when the weather rises.

When working in extreme heat, you’re at risk of nausea, sunburn (which can be nastier than you think), heat stroke, heat rash & more.

Read on to learn more about what heat stroke does to your body, what employers & employees can do to prevent it, symptoms of heat-related issues to look for and how to treat your body when you do overheat.

WHAT HEAT DOES TO YOUR BODY

Heat does more than give you a burn (that’s bad, too—we’ll get into that later) and can result in vomiting. fainting, and even death.

A healthy, normal human body maintains an internal temperature of 37°C, and generally feels most comfortable with an air temperature between 20°C-27°C, and humidity ranges from 35 to 60%.

The body’s temperature doesn’t normally drop or rise 1° throughout the day, and usually only happens when the body experiences illness or unusual environmental conditions, but heat still has negative effects on the body. Differences less than 1°C in a human’s internal body temperature are normal and can fluctuate depending on the time of day, amount of physical activity and even your mood.

As the external environment warms, the body warms, too. Your ‘internal thermostat’ will introduce more blood to your skin and produce more sweat. This means the body increases the amount of heat it loses to make sense of the heat burden.

When environments are hot, the rate of ‘heat gain’ is more than the rate of ‘heat loss’ and the body temperature begins to rise. This rise results in heat illnesses.

When your body begins to heat up too much, you may become:

  • Irritable
  • Unable to focus or concentrate on mental tasks
  • Loss of ability to do skilled tasks or heavy work

Over-exposure to heat can lead to:

  • Heat Edema: Swelling (typically in the ankles) caused by work in hot environments.
  • Heat Rashes: Inflammation, which causes tiny red spots that prickle during heat exposure due to clogged sweat glands.
  • Heat Cramps: You might feel sharp pains in muscles in addition to the other symptoms of heat stress we list above. Cramps from heat are caused when your body fails to replace lost sweat with salt, and often happen when you drink too much water and don’t replace it with enough salt (electrolytes).
  • Heat Exhaustion: Caused when you lose body water and salt from excessive sweating. Symptoms involve heavy sweat, weakness, dizziness, visual disturbances, intense thirst, nausea, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps, breathlessness, palpitations, tingling and numb hands & feet.
  • Heat Syncope: Heat-induced dizziness and fainting caused by insufficient blood flow to the brain while someone is standing. This usually happens when people aren’t used to an environment (are unacclimatized) and your body loses body fluids through sweat, blood pressure lowers & blood pools in the legs. Luckily, recovery is very quick when you simply rest in a cool area.
  • Heat Stroke: This is the most serious type of heat illness. Signs of heat stroke include a body temperature over 41°C and complete/partial loss of consciousness. There are two types of heat stress, one where the victim does not sweat and the other, where they do sweat.

HEAT STROKE: WHAT EMPLOYERS CAN DO

As an employer, you have a responsibility to create the most safe environment for workers as possible.

Employers of workplaces under federal jurisdiction have responsibility under clause 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker. This includes precautions to protect workers while working in heat, or with processes that use heat.

It’s important to note that work in heat can impact all sorts of workplaces, not just those outside. Workplaces like industrial kitchens or any other place that burns fuel, particularly in an area that could become enclosed—Warehouse shipping & receiving areas are a good example of this.

As an employer, you should provide:

  • Training, instruction & supervision to perform their jobs safely: This includes providing employees an understanding of overall work procedures, how to use workplace tools & equipment, knowledge about foreseeable workplace hazards and giving them documentation when training is delivered.
  • Health & Safety Committees: Employers under federal jurisdiction with a certain amount of employees (the number varies province-to-province) and have a responsibility to establish a workplace health & safety committee, which is considered an important part of the internal responsibility system. In organizations with 300 employees or more, a Policy Health & Safety Committee must be established. Policy Health & Safety committees serve to change issues that can’t be dealt with by individual health & safety committees. In workplaces with 20 or fewer employers, a health & safety representative should be established.
  • Investigation: Employers must investigate employee complaints and accident/injury incidents. They must report serious incidents to the Labour Program within 24 hours, and must report temporary or permanent disabling industries within 14 days of it happening.
  • Inspection: Inspections must be conducted to ensure health & safety issues are taken care of before they can cause injuries.

Here are some things employers & employees can do to make work in heat more comfortable:

  • Use fans or other mechanical cooling measures
  • Wear light, loose fitting clothing
  • Increase break frequency and reduce laborious physical activity when peak temperatures emerge
  • Drink cold beverages without salt, caffeine or alcohol, which can dehydrate you
  • Implement measures to create shade—For example, umbrellas, screens or tents

worker sweating in extreme heat

HEAT STROKE: WHAT EMPLOYEES CAN DO

Employees have responsibility and say when it comes to protecting themselves from the heat.

For employees, Part 2 of the Canada Labour Code details some duties employees must take to protect themselves at work.

These are duties Canadian employees must take (for all types of work) to stay safe:

USE IT OR LOSE IT
  • Use all safety materials, equipment, devices, and clothing that are provided by the employer and are intended to protect employees.
LISTEN UP
  • Follow procedures & instructions relating to the health and safety of employees.
DON’T BE A NEGATIVE NELLY
  • Co-operate with any person carrying out a duty or function required by the Code.
IT’S NOT TATTLING IF YOU SAVE A LIFE
  • Report to the employer any thing or circumstance that is likely to be hazardous to employees or any other person in the workplace, report to the employer all work-related accidents, occupational diseases, or other hazardous occurrences that have caused injury to you or any other person, and report to the employer any situation you believe to be a contravention of Part II of the Code by the employer, another employee, or any other person.
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS
  • Comply with every oral or written direction given by a health and safety officer or an appeals officer.
WRITE BACK
  • Respond in writing to a health and safety officer’s direction or report when requested to do so by the health and safety officer.

Here are some tips & steps employees should take to protect themselves from heat at work:

KNOW THE SIGNS 

  • Recognize the signs of heat stroke, not just for yourself, but your coworkers, too. People suffering from heat stroke often don’t see their own signs, so being able to notice symptoms in others will help keep everyone onsite safe.
  • Symptoms of heat stroke include:
    • Headache
    • Nausea
    • Dry, hot skin
    • Confusion/Hallucinations
    • Seizures
    • Partial to complete loss of consciousness

WORK IN EXTREME TEMPERATURES: LEGISLATION 

Like we mention above, legislation can be a bit vague surrounding the rules and regulations on what employers specifically must do to keep employees safe with regards to heat stroke, and often these standards & regulations will differ provincially.

Generally, there is no specific temperature federally in Canada where work can’t be performed, however, the temperature might be a risk factor for potential hazards that make work unsafe to perform. In these cases employers and employees have a responsibility to adjust conditions, or the right to refuse work if the temperature creates hazards.

The reason for this? There are factors that contribute to exposure limit (the time a worker can safely be exposed to a condition like heat) beyond just the temperature. Some of these are:

  • Relative humidity
  • Exposure to other heat sources
  • Air circulation & flow
  • Demands of work
  • If workers are acclimatized to the workload under the conditions
  • If workers have proper clothing & PPE
  • Amount of work compared to the amount of breaks

Like we mention above, there isn’t one magic temperature where work is cancelled, but each province does have some legislation that describes temperatures suggested for different workplaces & conditions, particularly those in industrial jobs.

Another way employers, managers or supervisors might determine if the heat can be dangerous is to use TLV® Values. Sometimes these are used as legislation, and sometimes as guidelines provincially.

This table represents the criteria for workers’ exposure to heat stress, and are used as a guideline (and sometimes legislation) for employers to determine when work can be unsafe.

TLV® value chart

 

 

It’s also worth noting that TLV® Values are subject to change annually. Work levels are defined as:

REST: Sitting

LIGHT WORK: Sitting, standing to control machines, light hand or arm work

MODERATE WORK: Moderate hand & arm work, light pushing or pulling,

HEAVY WORK: Intense arm & trunk work, pick & shovel work, digging, carrying, pushing/pulling heavy loads and walking at a fast pace

VERY HEAVY: Intense activity at fast to maximum pace.

YOU NOTICE THAT SOMEONE HAS THE SIGNS OF HEAT STROKE—WHAT SHOULD I DO? 

These are some first aid measures you should use when you see someone suffering from heat-related symptoms.

  • Call 911
  • Move them to a cooler location with shade
  • Stay with the person until help arrives
  • Remove shoes, socks & as many clothes as possible
  • Apply cool water/cloths to their head, face, neck, armpits & groin
  • Do not force the person to drink liquid

FOR RELATED READING, CHECK OUT OUR BLOGS:

WHY CONFINED SPACE TRAINING? 

TRAINING TUESDAY: TOP 4 CONFINED SPACE HAZARDS 

CANNABIS: BEYOND THE CULTIVATING AND HARVESTING


NEED A LIFT? WE LIFT ANYTHING—AND FIX IT, TOO. 

INFO@HERCULESSLR.COM1 (877) 461-4876


Hercules SLR is part of Hercules Group of Companies, with locations and unique businesses coast-to-coast. We provide securing, lifting and rigging services for sectors in Canada and Internationally. Hercules SLR serves the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.

We have the ability to provide any hoisting solution your business or project will need. Call us today for more information. 1-877-461-4876 or email info@herculesslr.com


SOURCES:

  • https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/phys_agents/max_temp.html
  • https://www.cos-mag.com/occupational-hygiene/30594-7-ways-to-beat-the-heat-when-working-outdoors/
  • https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/health-safety/workplace-safety.html

The Westray Bill & Weed: What you Need to Know About Bill C-45

You may be familiar with Bill C-45, otherwise known as the Cannabis Act, a piece of legislation that legalized weed throughout Canada – but what does this mean for the workplace?

Read on to learn more about Bill C-45, what it means for employers, employees & organizations and how to stay compliant & safe at work.

BILL C-45: WHAT IS IT?

Bill C-45, also known as the Westray Bill, was legislation enacted as law to Canada’s Criminal Code in 2004. Bill C-45 was created following the Westray Mining tragedy, where 26 miners died due to preventable, unsafe work conditions. In a report made after the tragedy, the owner of the mine, Curragh Resources, safety inspectors and even politicians’ were found to all have some sort of responsibility for the tragedy.

This legislation aimed to create legal responsibility for companies regarding workplace health and safety. It detailed rules to attribute criminal liability to organizations, and those who direct the work of others, like supervisors, managers, or anyone else with the responsibility of directing/supervising others. This specification is made because sometimes, a job title doesn’t specify whether they are responsible to manage others and assign responsibilities & duties.

The 2004 bill amended the criminal code to place responsibility on organizations and others responsible. Sections 217.1, 22.1 and 22.2 were added. These sections state:

217.1

217.1—Everyone who undertakes, or has the authority, to direct how another person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising from that work or task.”

22.1

22.1—In respect of an offence that requires the prosecution to prove negligence, an organization is a party to the offence if (a) acting within the scope of their authority, (i) one of its representatives is a party to the offence, or (ii) two or more of its representatives engage in conduct, whether by act or omission, such that, if it had been the conduct of only one representative, that representative would have been a party to the offence; and (b) the senior officer who is responsible for the aspect of the organization’s activities that is relevant to the offence departs – or the senior officers, collectively, depart – markedly from the standard of care that, in the circumstances, could reasonably be expected to prevent a representative of the organization from being a party to the offence.

22.2

22.2—In respect of an offence that requires the prosecution to prove fault — other than negligence — an organization is a party to the offence if, with the intent at least in part to benefit the organization, one of its senior officers (a) acting within the scope of their authority, is a party to the offence; (b) having the mental state required to be a party to the offence and acting within the scope of their authority, directs the work of other representatives of the organization so that they do the act or make the omission specified in the offence; or (c) knowing that a representative of the organization is or is about to be a party to the offence, does not take all reasonable measures to stop them from being a party to the offence.”

BILL C-45: THE CANNABIS ACT 

In 2017, the cannabis act was proposed as part of Bill C-45 and was introduced to Parliament in April, 2017. Marijuana was legalized for recreational use throughout Canada in October 2018 – with this, of course, comes potential safety issues for both employers and employees.

BILL C-45: WEED IN THE WORKPLACE

There are limited studies about how weed impacts those in the workplace (for obvious reasons) – however, there are quite a few well-known side effects that generally, will impact the way you work. Symptoms of marijuana use include:

  • Dizziness, drowsiness, feeling faint or light-headed, fatigue, headache(s)
  • Impaired memory and disturbances in attention, concentration and ability to think and make decisions
  • Disorientation, confusion, feeling drunk, feeling abnormal or having abnormal thoughts, feeling “too high”, feelings of unreality, feeling an extreme slowing of time
  • Suspiciousness, nervousness, episodes of anxiety that resemble a panic attack, paranoia (loss of contact with reality), hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that don’t exist)
  • Impairment of motor skills and perception, altered bodily perceptions, losing control of bodily movements, falls
  • Dry mouth, throat irritation, coughing
  • Worsening of seizures
  • Hypersensitivity (worsening of dermatitis or hives)
  • Higher or lower blood levels of certain medications
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Fast heartbeat

Overall, Health Canada (2016) says about cannabis-use, “Using cannabis or any cannabis product can impair your concentration, your ability to think and make decisions, and your reaction time and coordination. This can affect your motor skills, including your ability to drive. It can also increase anxiety and cause panic attacks, and in some cases cause paranoia and hallucinations.

You should not be impaired at work under any circumstances – but particularly if you work in an industry that relies strongly on safety standards, or risk & hazard assessment to keep yourself and others safe. As we mentioned in the list above, marijuana can impair your ability to think clearly and your motor-skill ability & agility. Its effects can last up to 24-hours.

BILL C-45: HOW TO STAY COMPLIANT

FOR EMPLOYERS 

As Bill C-45 states, employers in Canada have a responsibility to provide a safe work environment for employees and take reasonable measures to protect the health and safety of workers. Employers must show due diligence by creating safety precautions before an accident occurs – not after. How does an employer do this?

Well, there are many factors to consider when it comes to workplace safety and both employers and employees play a role to make it happen. Here are easy steps you can take to stay compliant, and have transparent communication with staff about weed at work:

  • Does your organization have an EFAP (Employee & Family Assistance Program) in place? Typically, this gives employees a private, confidential place to ask questions about the resources available to help with issues like stress, depression and addiction. They will often, at no charge to the employee, tell you what kind of services are available to deal with these issues, and if your employee benefits will help you access them.

FOR EMPLOYEES

Employees have a responsibility to show up ready to work and keep themselves, and others safe – employees must work sober, alert and take measures to not be fatigued, all of which increase the risk of injury.


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Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.

We have the ability to provide any solution your business or project will need. Call us today for more information. 1-877-461-4876. Don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn for more news and upcoming events.