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WorkSafeBC urges workers, employers to be careful amid high temperatures

With high temperatures forecasted for B.C. this week, WorkSafeBC is reminding workers and employers to be careful whether they're working outdoors or indoors.

In 2021, a year that included a historic heat dome in B.C., WorkSafeBC says it accepted 115 claims of heat-related stress while at work, nearly tripling the annual average.

A total of 115 heat-related injury claims were accepted with WorkSafeBC last year, up from the average of 41 claims made annually in the three years prior.

Of the 115 claims accepted last year, 41 were for indoor workers while 74 were for outdoor workers.

"Whether you are working outdoors on a farm or construction site, or indoors in a restaurant kitchen, or in a factory—heat stress can cause serious injuries and even death," said Suzana Prpic, senior manager of prevention field services at WorkSafeBC, in a statement Monday.

WorkSafeBC recommends that workers drink plenty of water, as much as one glass every 20 minutes, and wear light, loose-fitting clothing. People should also take breaks in cool areas, avoid physical work during the hottest part of the day – between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. – and know their personal risk factors, like pre-existing medical conditions and what medications they're on, in case those are exacerbated by heat.

"We are hoping that the serious heat wave in 2021 has raised awareness about the dangers of working in high temperatures," said Prpic.


WorkSafeBC is reminding employers that they must complete heat stress assessments and make sure that plans are in place to reduce heat stress, which can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Employers must also make sure that staff are trained and aware of what can cause heat-related injuries, and what the symptoms of heat exhaustion and stroke are.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include excessive sweating, dizziness, muscle cramps and fainting.

Meanwhile, symptoms of heat stroke include confusion, seizures, increased breathing rate, if someone stops sweating, and potentially cardiac arrest.

WorkSafeBC has released several suggestions for how employers can prepare for high temperatures:

  • Monitor heat conditions and require workers not to work alone.
  • Ensure there is adequate first-aid coverage and emergency procedures are in place.
  • Make physical modifications to facilities, equipment, processes to reduce exposure.
  • Change work practices and policies to limit the risk.
  • Determine appropriate work-rest cycles; when a worker feels ill it may be too late.
  • Rotate work activities or use additional workers to reduce exposure.
  • Establish cooling areas with shade and water.

Temperatures are expected to reach as high as 35 C in some areas of Vancouver Island this week, while regions of Interior B.C. can expect temperatures up to 40 C. Top Stories

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