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.
Be aware of the signs of heat stress in yourself and your co-workers, so it can be treated right away.
Early warning signs
dizziness and fatigue
changes to breathing and pulse rate
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
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
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
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