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WorkSafeNB cautions workers to stay cool in the heat

August 19, 2015

As temperatures soar to the high 30s C across New Brunswick this week, WorkSafeNB is reminding workers to remain cool and hydrated.

A warm, humid air mass stretching across the Maritimes is seeing temperatures, combined with the humidex, hit close to 40 C in some inland locations, and prompting Environment Canada to issue heat warnings for much of the province.

On Monday and Tuesday, the City of Fredericton suspended the operation of its tourist-oriented colour guard that marches through the downtown due to the hot weather. Some of the city’s playground programs were also cancelled as well as many of its outdoor tourism tours and programs.

To protect workers, WorkSafeNB is recommending that employers educate their staff on the signs and symptoms of heat stress. Signs include:

  • Heat cramps ‒ muscle spasms, excessive sweating
  • Heat exhaustion ‒ headache, weakness, nausea, clammy skin
  • Heat stroke ‒ hot, dry, flushed skin, severe headache, confusion, convulsion and loss of consciousness

Outdoor workers can avoid heat stress by minimizing their time in the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.  Wearing light-coloured clothing and a wide-brimmed hat and seeking shade whenever possible will minimize the risk. Employers can erect a tarp for a shaded area and provide cold drinks or food. They should ensure their employees drink about a cup of water every 20 minutes, even if they are not thirsty.

But it’s not only people who work outdoors who are at risk. A combination of hot outdoor temperatures with heat build-up inside can be dangerous for those who work in bakeries, foundries, restaurant kitchens, laundries and pulp mills.  They, too, need to take precautions.

The province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employees to be trained to recognize workplace hazards and minimize them. More information on how to avoid heat stress while on the job can be found at the Guide to OHS Legislation.

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