With extreme temperatures in many parts of British Columbia, WorkSafeBC is advising employers to consider closing down their workplaces if workers cannot be protected from the risk of heat stress.
“All workers are potentially at risk,” said Al Johnson, Head of Prevention Services at WorkSafeBC. “With the heatwave across B.C., we are warning employers and workers about the risk of developing heat stress. If not recognized and treated early, heat stress can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include excess sweating, dizziness, fainting and muscle cramps. Symptoms of heat stroke include cessation of sweating, an increased breathing rate, confusion, seizures and even cardiac arrest.
To prevent heat-stress injuries, WorkSafeBC requires employers to conduct heat stress assessments. As appropriate, employers must have a heat stress mitigation plan that provides education and training in recognizing the symptoms of heat stress and heat stroke.
“If an employer cannot be assured that workers will be protected against heat stress, they should seriously consider shutting down their workplace during this extreme heat,” said Johnson.
In the last three years, there have been almost 100 accepted claims for work-related injuries caused by heat stress — and these are preventable injuries.