July 18th, 2018

Are Heat Guidelines Adequate?

If there is one word you could use to describe this summer, it’s hot. Heatwaves have been hitting Canada from coast to coast with record temperatures being recorded. Many Canadians are enjoying the heat and taking advantage of the weather, but for people who work outside, it can be a serious hazard.

A recent study found that current guidelines for working in heat are ‘inadequate to protect workers’, pointing out that workers above 40 or people who suffer from chronic health conditions such as diabetes are at higher risk.

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Professor Glen Kenny from the University of Ottawa performed the study and said that the guidelines are ‘one size fits all.’

He pointed out in an interview with CBC News that the guidelines that many government agencies base their recommendations on information that’s been collected from young adults and tests are based on only a few hours of hot-weather activity.

You have to be especially careful in urban communities. Cities have become known as ‘heat islands’ according to Kenny. They don’t have the same cooling effect as rural areas when the sun goes down because there are fewer open spaces and the sun gets absorbed by the asphalt and buildings during the day.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act in Alberta recommends being aware of the signs of heat stress and stroke so it can be treated right away.

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Early warning signs of heat stress and stroke

o   headache

o   confusion

o   dizziness and fatigue

o   dehydration

o   heavy sweating

o   muscle cramps

o   changes to breathing and pulse rate

How to avoid overheating

o   drink lots of water

o   take breaks

o   wear protective equipment designed to reduce heat stress

o   minimize physical activity in hot environments

o   know the signs of heat stress


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