High temperatures forecast for Vancouver Island have led WorkSafe B.C. to alert employers and workers to an increase risk of developing heat stroke.
Last year, 24 workers in B.C. lost days at work because of heat stress-related injuries, four of which were on Vancouver Island, according to a press release issued by WorkSafe. This is an increase from the historical average of 19 heat stress injuries in B.C. annually.
“In 2015, the majority of workers who suffered heat stress related injuries were in the construction sector, followed closely by primary resources and manufacturing,” said Mike Ross, WorkSafe’s prevention field services manager in Victoria. “We need to remember [that] everyone working in hot conditions is potentially at risk.”
Heat stress occurs when a person’s internal temperature increases faster than the body can cool itself. Symptoms include excess sweating, dizziness and nausea. If not addressed quickly, additional symptoms such as heat cramps, or potentially lethal heat stroke can rapidly develop.
To prevent heat stress and heat stroke, drink water – one glass every 20 minutes; wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabric; take rest breaks in a cool, well-ventilated area; do physical work during the coolest part of the day.
Personal risk factors for heat stress and stroke include medications, skin disorders, sleep deprivation, poor physical fitness and pre-existing medical conditions.
WorkSafe requires employers to conduct heat stress assessments. As appropriate, employers must have a heat stress mitigation plan which provides education and training in recognizing the symptoms of heat stress and heat stroke. Workers are required to participate in monitoring conditions, and checking co-workers for symptoms.
For more information, please visit WorkSafe B.C.’s website.