RICHMOND, B.C. – As the temperatures begin to rise in many parts of the province, WorkSafeBC is reminding employers and workers of the risk of heat stress when working outdoors.

If left untreated, heat stress can lead to injuries from heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Heat stress happens when your internal temperature increases faster than your body can cool itself.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  • excess sweating
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • muscle cramps

Symptoms of heat stroke:

  • sweating stops
  • increased breathing rate
  • confusion
  • seizures
  • cardiac arrest

To prevent heat stress and its injuries, WorkSafeBC requires employers to conduct assessments. If appropriate, employers should have a heat stress mitigation plan that works to provide education and training, so recognizing the symptoms becomes easy.

Ways employers can help to prevent heat stress:

  • change work practices and policies to help limit the risk
  • monitor heat conditions and require that workers don’t work alone
  • determine the appropriate work-rest cycles
  • rotate work activities or use additional workers to help reduce exposure
  • have cooling areas with shade and water
  • ensure there is adequate first-aid coverage, and emergency procedures are in place
  • make physical modifications to facilities, equipment, processes to reduce exposure

Ways workers can help to prevent heat stress:

  • keep hydrated and drink plenty of water, i.e., one glass every 20 minutes
  • wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabric like cotton
  • take rest breaks in a cool, well-ventilated area
  • do hard physical work during the coldest parts of the day, either before 11 am or after 3 pm
  • know your risk factors
  • check for signs and symptoms of heat stress