Heat Stress

Heat StressWhat is Heat Stress?

Heat stress is a condition that can take many forms, depending on the severity of external and internal factors and, of course, the condition of the individual.  The heating and cooling balance in the body depends on:

  • air temperature
  • humidity
  • radiant heat
  • physical activity
  • colling (by the evaporation of sweat)
  • body adjustments (acclimatization

Heat stress is an issue in many workplaces all year round.  Heat stress not only affects employees working outdoors, but also those who are exposed to radiant heat or who come in direct physical contact with hot equipment as part of their job.

What the law says

Employers have a duty under Section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker.  This includes developing policies and procedures to protect workers who have direct physical contact with hot equipment, are exposed to radiant heat sources, or are working in hot weather.

For compliance purposes, the Ministry of Labour recommends the current threshold limit value for heat stress and heat strain (published by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists).  These values are based on preventing unacclimatized workers' core temperatures from rising above 38ºC.

How can heat stress affect your business?

A worker expending large amounts of physical energy in a hot and humid environment, without regular rest or water breaks may eventually experience heat exhaustion, fainting, heat stroke or heart attack.  Long-term, this can lead to reproductive problems, heart and lung strain and other complications, and may even result in death.  It is critical to address this hazard to protect employees and your business from lost productivity, reduce morale, as well as fines and penalties.

What you can do

There are many ways you, as an employer, can take measures to ensure that your staff is healthy and safe from heat stress, including:

  • Make staff aware of the hazard of heat stress and provide the necessary training on first aid reporting, emergency response, medical monitoring, etc
  • Design work to allow for adequate rest and hydration breaks
  • Conduct regular inspections to identify potential hazards and ensure that the necessary controls to prevent an incident are in place
  • Investigate heat stress incidents that occur in the workplace
  • Provide necessary protective equipment and clothing

Consulting Services

Consulting Services Awareness Sessions

Consulting Services Awareness Sessions

Awareness sessions are presentations of up to 2 hours in length delivered at your workplace by WSPS consultants. They are designed to help meet your legal duty to provide information about workplace hazards to employees.


WSPS Safety Group

WSPS Safety Group

WSPS is the largest Safety Group provider and one of the longest running sponsors in the province. With our extensive experience and proven track record, by working with us and other member firms participating firms can achieve better results, and qualify for WSIB rebates.

Downloads

Cooking and Baking

Cooking and Baking

This guideline highlights the hazards associated with cooking and baking and provides safe work guidelines to help minimalize or eliminate the risk.
265 KB pdf
Job Aid - Molten Metal Die Casting (Aluminum)

Job Aid - Molten Metal Die Casting (Aluminum)

Molten metal die casting can pose a variety hazards. Use our job aid to learn more.
593 KB PDF
OHSCO Heat Stress Poster

OHSCO Heat Stress Poster

A companion piece to the OHSCO Heat Stress Awareness Guide, this poster can be displayed in your workplace and offers simple tips that can help your workers protect themselves from the deadly symptoms of heat stress.
1063 KB pdf
OHSCO Humidex Based Heat Response Plan

OHSCO Humidex Based Heat Response Plan

The Humidex Based Heat Response Plan, developed by the Occupational Health and Safety Council of Ontario's (OHSCO) Heat Stress Awareness Committee translates the wet bulb globe temperatures found in the 2007 American Conference of Governmental Hygienists (ACGIH) Heat Stress TLV® (Threshold Limit Value®) into a humidex reading.
55 KB pdf

Articles

The Dog Days of Summer Are Here. Prepare for the heat now

The Dog Days of Summer Are Here. Prepare for the heat now

These heat waves may last only a week or two, but in this time workers can suffer debilitating effects and even death. A few simple steps taken now can keep your people thriving and productive even in the hottest weather.

Jul 12, 2017
How to prevent your employees from contracting Canada's most common form of cancer

How to prevent your employees from contracting Canada's most common form of cancer

If it were simple, the short answer would be to keep them out of the sun. But how do you protect people when research shows that even brief exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation can put them at risk of skin cancer?

Apr 04, 2016
Managing heat stress: new standard on the way, plus tips for today

Managing heat stress: new standard on the way, plus tips for today

Seasonal heat and humidity is coming, if not here already. We've provided essential tips on how to manage this hazard and links to resources below, but more help is on the horizon. By the end of 2016, employers will have access to a new guideline for protecting workers from a number of extreme conditions, such as high heat and humidity, cold temperatures and severe weather.

Jun 08, 2015
Prepare for heat stress now. It's just a matter of time

Prepare for heat stress now. It's just a matter of time

Back in January hot weather seemed a long way off, but it's coming. And more of it every year. The number of extremely hot days has been increasing globally over the past 15 years, a recent study has found.

May 09, 2014
Heat stress: protecting yourself

Heat stress: protecting yourself

When it comes to safeguarding workers from heat stress, employers are responsible for developing, implementing and enforcing policies and procedures. However, workers also have an opportunity and responsibility to protect themselves. Many of these opportunities complement what employers can do.
Jul 24, 2012
Feeling hot, hot, hot – heat stress prevention

Feeling hot, hot, hot – heat stress prevention

It’s in the forecast: this summer will be a hot one! That’s good news for vacationers, a warning bell for those who will be working through the heat. What better time to develop a workplace heat stress prevention plan? We’ve gathered together some helpful info and tips to get you started.
Jun 29, 2011