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Hot Weather Safety Guidelines: Indoor/Outdoor Workers

The Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit recommends the following steps to be taken to prevent heat related illness:

 

During an Extreme Heat Alert

 

Follow Heat Alert Guidelines AND

Employers Should:

  • If possible, reschedule outdoor work and closely monitor indoor workers.
  • Schedule breaks for frequent drinks to ensure adequate hydration. Plain water is the liquid of choice; sports drinks and juice are okay.
  • Strongly advise staff to use the buddy system to closely monitor co-workers.
  • Reinforce the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and the immediate first aid actions required to treat. When in doubt call 911 for help.
     

During a Heat Alert

 
  • Keep cool
  • Stay hydrated
  • Follow established buddy system (closely observe co-workers)

Follow the General Guidelines AND

Employers Should:

  • For outdoor workers, schedule regular breaks and implement work/rest cycles in cool environments.
  • For indoor workers, schedule regular breaks and provide regular cooling/rest breaks.
  • Provide access to plenty of cool beverages (plain water is the liquid of choice).
  • Ensure that staff follows the established buddy system to closely observe co-workers.

Workers Should:

  • Drink lots of cool beverages (plain water is the liquid of choice).
  • Closely monitor and check on co-workers for signs of heat illness.
     

General Recommendations

Employers should:

  1. Establish a policy and plan to deal with extreme temperatures (e.g. sample policy atsunsmart.com.au). Identify and post potential sun exposure hazards in the workplace.
  2. Ensure employees adhere to health and safety guidelines related to extreme temperature and UV protection.
  3. Monitor daily heat advisories and adjust schedules if possible.
  4. Whenever possible, reorganize or postpone work routines or hours when temperatures and UV radiation are most intense, especially between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  5. Ensure that employees utilize proper sun protective clothing and equipment such as long-sleeved shirts/pants/skirts, wide brimmed hat or appropriate headwear, UV protective sunglasses (safety), and sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher).
  6. Provide a period of acclimatization (“used to heat”) for employees to prepare for work under hot conditions.
  7. As much as possible, provide shade for outdoor workers (natural or artificial structures).
  8. As much as possible, maximize ventilation and use heat shielding for indoor environments. Use air blowers and fans with caution. Do not use if they only circulate hot air as this increases the risk of dehydration.
  9. Ensure employees have access to plenty of cool beverages (plain water is the liquid of choice).
  10. Establish a buddy system which allows for close observation of co-workers.
  11. Employers should role model appropriate heat and sun safe behaviours.
  12. Be aware of signs and symptoms of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Follow first aid procedures promptly.

Workers should:

  1. Adhere to the established policy and plan to deal with extreme temperatures.
  2. Be aware of and adhere to health and safety guidelines related to extreme temperature and UV protection.
  3. Utilize proper sun protective clothing and equipment such as long-sleeved shirts/pants/skirts, wide brimmed hat or appropriate headwear, UV protective sunglasses (safety), and sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher).
  4. Monitor daily heat advisories and adjust schedules if possible.
  5. Be aware of signs and symptoms of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Follow first aid procedures promptly.
  6. Role model appropriate heat and sun safety behaviours.
  7. Apply sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher), 20-30 minutes before going outside to ensure absorption.
  8. When using DEET insect repellent, apply 20-30 minutes after sunscreen has been applied.

Adapted with permission from Peel Public Health