Working in Extreme Weather

We live in Canada; and this time of year the weather can change quickly without notice. It is important to understand the effects of the weather on your body and how to keep yourself, and your employees, safe during periods of extreme weather.

Working in Extreme Heat

Your body functions best when it has an internal “core” temperature of 37°C. This might seem warm, but this is your internal temperature (not the air temperature). This temperature is necessary for your vital organs to function normally. During a regular day, your body temperature may vary by about 1°C depending on the time of day, your level of physical activity and how you are feeling (emotional reactions). In order to maintain balance when you work in extreme temperatures, your body has to adapt to the conditions. This process can take 4 to 7 working days, but can vary with every individual. You should slowly increase the time you spend working outdoors over this time period to make sure you can work safely.

Heat stress

Be aware of the signs of heat stress in yourself and your co-workers, so it can be treated right away.


Early warning signs

  • headache

  • confusion

  • dizziness and fatigue

  • dehydration

  • heavy sweating

  • muscle cramps

  • changes to breathing and pulse rate


Heat stroke

Heat stress can progress to heat stroke. Heat stroke occurs when your internal body temperature is raised. It’s a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.


How to avoid overheating

  • drink lots of water

  • take breaks

  • wear protective equipment designed to reduce heat stress

  • minimize physical activity in hot environments

  • know the signs of heat stress


What employers can do

Hot weather is a workplace hazard. Like all hazards, employers must have a plan to control or eliminate dangers associated with working in the heat.


Some things employers can do include:

  • changing the work location to a cooler shaded area

  • creating a cooling station where workers can rest

  • allowing workers to adapt to the temperature

  • scheduling more physically demanding jobs for the cooler times of the day

  • providing plenty of cool drinking water

Sever Storms

Thunderstorms, hail, blizzards, ice storms, high winds and heavy rain can develop quickly and threaten life and property. Severe storms occur in all regions of Canada, and in all seasons.

Listen to the local radio or television stations for severe weather warnings and advice. Keep a battery-powered or wind-up radio on hand as there can be power outages during severe storms.


Thunder and Lightening

Every year in Canada, lightning kills approximately 10 Canadians and injures 100 to 150 others. The most important thing to remember, according to Environment Canada, is that there is no safe place outdoors during a thunderstorm.

If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance of lightning. Whether you’re on the job site or on the golf course, it is important to take shelter immediately.

  • If you cannot find an enclosed building, get into a metal-roofed vehicle and stay inside for 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder

  • If you are in a car, do not park under tall objects that could topple

  • If you are stuck outside, do not stand near tall objects, under trees or anything made of metal. Take shelter in a low lying area

  • If you are on the water get to shore as quickly as possible


Tornado Safety

Peak tornado season is June through August. Two of the top four deadliest tornadoes in Canadian history occurred in Alberta.

When a tornado threatens, take shelter immediately.

  • Head to the lowest level of a sturdy building and stick to the middle of the structure

  • Stay away from exterior walls and windows

  • Close all doors and windows

  • If you are in a multi-storey building get towards the centre of the building and to the lower floors if possible

  • If you are in a mobile home, head to the nearest sturdy shelter

  • If you are outside without shelter, lie flat in a ditch, ravine or low-lying area and shield your head and neck with your arms

Links for more information: http://work.alberta.ca/documents/WHS-PUB_gs006.pdf

https://www.alberta.ca/emergency-preparation.aspx

https://www.getprepared.gc.ca/cnt/hzd/rgnl/ab-en.aspx

https://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/severe-weather-safety-tips/9341



LOCATIONS

RED DEER

EDMONTON

CALGARY

MEDICINE HAT

LETHBRIDGE

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