Heat emergency guidelines

Avoiding heat stress could save workers’ lives

What can employers do to ease conditions for employees who have to work in extremely hot environments? That question has come to the forefront following the death of a bakery worker in Barrie, Ontario during the recent record-breaking heat wave.

Kim Warner, 44, collapsed near the end of his 12-hour shift on Aug. 8 and later died. He had been working near an oven where the temperature rose to over 60 degrees C. An autopsy revealed he’d died of heat stress.

According to a communiqué released the same day by the Ontario Ministry of Labour, heat stress occurs when a combination of high temperature and physical activity strains, and perhaps even overcomes, the body’s natural cooling system. Heat stress can lead to heat stroke, which can be fatal.

The Ministry of Labour provides information and guidelines for dealing with heat stress on its Web site at www.gov.on.ca/LAB/ohs/heate.htm.

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