Heat Stress in the Workplace: Know the Signs and Symptoms

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By Megan Lacombe


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Heat_Stress_in_the_Workplace_Know_the_Signs_and_SymptomsAt Liberty Staffing, we provide temporary and permanent staff to industrial-based companies within Ontario. Having so many clients in the industrial industry, and with summer quickly approaching, it is important to remember the signs and symptoms of heat stress in the workplace. If you are a client of Liberty Staffing, we would like to offer you some important information on heat stress and provide you with the necessary precautions to prevent heat stress illness in your workplace.

What is heat stress?

Heat stress is caused when working under hot, humid conditions combined with hard physical labour, loss of fluids, fatigue, stress, and/or pre-existing medical conditions.

Facts about heat stress:

  • Heat stress can effect anyone, no matter how fit or young the individual.
  • When working in humid conditions, the body works harder to eliminate extra heat caused by the humidity.
  • High humidity causes sweat to stay on the body for a longer period of time, with no cooling effect.
  • Heat stress can cause serious illness within workers (such as heat stroke, heat rash, heat exhaustion, cramps, fainting, disability, and even death).

Signs and symptoms of heat stress:

  • When an individual has a high body temperature, hot and red skin, rapid pulse, headache or dizziness, they may have heat stroke. Signs and symptoms of heat stroke also include a high level of confusion and strange behaviour within the individual.
  • Signs of a heat rash include a red, bumpy rash on the skin.
  • Commons signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy breathing or panting, strong thirst, nausea, high body temperature, tired or weak limbs, and blurred vision.
  • Heat cramps occur in the muscles worked most during and after physical labour. Heat cramps are caused by humid conditions and dehydration.
  • A weak pulse and clammy skin are commonly associated with fainting.

What can you do to reduce and control heat stress in your workplace?

Here are some helpful tips:

  • If hot jobs are required to be performed, schedule the tasks during cooler times of the day. 
  • Use air cooling systems accordingly.
  • Provide employees with air conditioned areas and cooling stations.
  • Establish frequent breaks for workers within a shaded area equipped with seating and cold beverages.
  • Provide cold beverages to workers and remind them to drink every 20 minutes.
  • Advise employees to wear light summer clothing on hot and humid days. Clothing which allows for air flow and sweat evaporation are ideal in hot weather conditions. 
  • Wear sunscreen and light coloured clothing if working outdoors.
  • Educate your employees about the signs and symptoms of heat stress.
  • Create a buddy system. Heat stress often occurs when an individual does not notice their own symptoms.

If heat stress occurs in your workplace, please seek medical attention immediately.

Please contact a Risk Management Representative if you have any further questions about heat stress.

For more information about heat stress, please visit the Ontario Ministry of Labour website at http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/gl_heat.php.

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Megan Lacombe

Megan is a Media Communications professional at Liberty Staffing. She has experience working as a Freelance Writer for a variety of companies online. In her free time, she enjoys crafting, photography, running, and kayaking. An avid reader, she reads anything, anywhere. She puts creativity and passion into everything that she does. Her favourite quote is “Create the things you wish existed” by Anonymous.

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