Human Resources Policies
Heat Stress
Policy on Climate-Related Hazards - (i) Heat Stress

Category: Health and Safety
Sub-Category: General

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Policy Statement

This policy is intended to protect workers from potential adverse effects of overexposure to heat.

Application

It applies to all City of Toronto employees who work in high temperature conditions for significant time periods.

Definitions

Heat rash:

A heat-induced condition characterized by a red, bumpy rash with severe itching<

Heat cramps:

A heat-induced condition characterized by painful cramps in the arms, legs or stomach which can occur at work or later at home. This condition can be a warning of other more serious heat-induced illnesses

Heat exhaustion:

A heat-induced condition characterized by sweating, cool moist skin, body temperature over 38C, weak pulse, and normal or low blood pressure

Heat stroke:

A heat-induced condition characterized by high body temperature (41C) and any one of the following:

  • weakness, confusion, emotional upset and strange behaviour
  • hot, dry, red skin
  • fast pulse
  • headaches and dizziness

In the later stages, a person may pass out and have convulsions. If not recognized and addressed, this condition can result in death


Responsibilities

Divisions will:

  • identify jobs with a potential risk of heat stress and develop job-specific safe work procedures (based on the City of Toronto Interim Guidelines for the Prevention of Heat-Related Disorders) which address this hazard
  • inform workers and their supervisors where their work involves potential risk of heat stress
  • develop a process to ensure supervisors and workers are advised of:
    • factors which can predispose them to heat stress
    • the warning signs and symptoms of heat stress conditions (heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke), and
    • the measures to be taken to protect against this hazard (eg. having water available to drink during work shift, wearing appropriate clothing and pacing oneself while working)
  • post information on heat stress in the workplaces of employees potentially exposed to this hazard
  • ensure workers have access to a drinking water source for filling personal containers at the beginning of the shift, if water is not accessible throughout the shift
  • if uniforms or clothing are being provided by the division, ensure that clothing specifications reduce the risk of heat stress (while providing appropriate protection from other hazards, where necessary)
  • allow a gradual period of acclimatization to work in hot environments for new and other non-acclimatized workers [Note: Even workers who work outside on an ongoing basis may not be acclimatized if temperatures rise steeply within a short time period early in the spring or summer.]
  • re-schedule work on hot days to cooler times of the day, when feasible
  • where feasible and necessary, reduce temperature and humidity through air cooling and conditioning of enclosed work environments or shading of open areas

Those with supervisory responsibilities will:

  • schedule information sessions for employees whose work places them at risk of heat stress
  • on days where environmental conditions have reached designated threshold levels according to the attached guideline:
  • implement safe work procedures established to prevent heat-induced illness
  • determine any additional rest breaks that may be required as a result of workload and local conditions
  • advise workers to:
  • drink enough fluids to replace those lost through sweating and breathing
  • take breaks in the shade or a cool area, as needed to avoid heat exhaustion or collapse
  • report to their supervisor heat stress-related symptoms in themselves or their co-workers
  • adhere to the recommended rest break schedule, established to avoid heat exhaustion or collapse.

Workers will:

  • be familiar with heat stress hazards, predisposing factors and preventative measures
  • follow safe work procedures established to prevent heat-induced illness
  • drink enough fluids to replace those lost through sweating and breathing
  • report to their supervisor heat stress-related symptoms in themselves or their co-workers
  • follow recommended schedule of rest breaks, as advised by supervisors, to avoid heat exhaustion or collapse

Occupational health and safety staff, in conjunction with supervisory staff, will:

  • prepare information related to heat stress
  • develop safe work procedures
  • address heat stress concerns of employees
  • assist in provision of information sessions


Guidelines


Authority

  • Occupational Health and Safety Act (R.S.O. 1990, c.0.1)
  • Ministry of Labour Health and Safety Guideline - Heat Stress

Approved by

  • Occupational Health and Safety Coordinating Committee (OHSCC), May, 2000
  • Senior Management Team (SMT), October 20th, 2000

Date Approved

October 20, 2000

Reviewed by OHSCC

September 29, 2009

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