Keeping Staff Safe in the Heat
July 13, 2022 | News
Now that we’re into the summer months, extreme heat events are more likely and it’s important to think about how to keep staff safe and comfortable. This is especially important this year, as COVID-19 precautions such as PPE can make working in the heat even more challenging.
Staff—especially those who are required to continuously wear PPE during extreme heat events—may face risks from heat stress, particularly in places of work that may not be air-conditioned or adequately ventilated. It is important to inform people of heat-health risks and heat illness and provide prevention strategies so that people can identify heat strain in themselves, co-workers, and those under their care.
Here are some things that managers and supervisors might want to think about this summer:
- Provide frequent rest breaks that allow hydration and cooling down.
- Have coolers with ice readily available with individual bottled water for ease of access or place water dispensers with disposable cups in staff areas not far from hand hygiene stations.
- Have individual cooling pads/towels available to help cool employees. The pads/towels are cooled with water, for frequent individual use.
- PPE may need to be changed more often due to perspiration (applicable during enhanced monitoring/outbreak) and need for hydration breaks.
- In more extreme circumstances, managers may want to consider only requiring tasks such as aerosol-generating medical procedures when essential, or limiting the staff responsible for these tasks.
We’ve created a safety huddle and hot weather poster for you to support your staff, and the residents and clients they care for, as we prepare for the hot weather conditions. WorkSafeBC also has some information on the signs of heatstroke and how to protect staff.
If you would like more support with minimizing risk, exposure control planning or any other health and safety concerns, please reach out to our health and safety consultant, Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org for support.