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Extreme temperature is a real danger that Canadian workers can face. Is your workplace prepared for the heat or the cold? Find out what you can do to protect your employees.
The diversity of Canada’s weather is one of the things that make our country special—but with temperatures that can fluctuate anywhere between plus-40 and minus-40 degrees Celsius, we need to protect employees who work in these extreme conditions.
As an employer, you have a duty to protect your employees from extreme temperatures as part of your Occupational Health and Safety requirements. Be it too hot or too cold, do you know what to look for?
Working in heat is a dangerous hazard for employees. High temperatures can happen in a variety of work environments, including:
When the air temperature or humidity rises above the range that is comfortable for workers, exposure to more heat can cause problems that affect performance and make the environment unsafe to work in. In extreme heat, people may feel:
There is information on heat illnesses, their symptoms and remedies including heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat rashes detailed at the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.
Prolonged exposure to freezing or cold temperatures can cause serious health problems. Cold can be challenging because it not only refers to a standing temperature, but it is greatly amplified by any wind or wetness.
Work efficiency can decrease in extreme cold situations due to:
The cold can cause different levels of injury:
The CCOHS has more information on working in cold environments including in detail how cold temperatures can affect the human body.
Ten things you can do to prevent temperature stress at work:
It is your responsibility to prevent injury or illness as a result of extreme temperatures at your workplace. Here are some suggestions for you:
If your workplace deals with extreme temperatures on either end of the spectrum, our Counsellors would be happy to share additional information with you.