Skin cancer is the most common cancer, with about one third of all new cases of cancer in Canada being skin cancers. Since skin is your body’s largest organ, it is important to protect it, especially from ultraviolent (UV) rays, which can damage your skin and cause premature ageing, eye damage and skin cancer1.
Heat stress occurs when an individual is working in a hot environment, and this heat puts stress on your body’s cooling system2. Since your body is always generating heat, any additional added heat or humidity causes your body to work even harder to get rid of the extra heat2.
Sources of heat and sun exposure in the workplace
Indoor work environment:
- foundries, smelters, chemical plants, bakeries and commercial kitchens2
Outdoor work environment:
- direct sunlight2
What can employers do?
- Employers should provide information, instruction and supervision to workers to protect their health or safety according to the Occupational Health and Safety Act
- Employers are legally required to develop and implement policies and procedures that educate and support employees who work in hot conditions or are exposed to UV radiation
- Have monitoring and control strategies in place for hot days and hot workplaces
- Provide air-conditioned rest areas
- Provide cool, shaded work areas
- Reduce temperature and humidity through air cooling
- Increase the frequency and length of rest breaks during hot and humid days
- Plan strenuous jobs during cooler times of the day
- Provide cool drinking water near workers and remind them to drink a cup every 20 minutes, or more frequently in order to stay hydrated
- Caution workers to avoid direct sunlight
- Provide sunscreen products and/or sunglasses either free of charge or at a reduced cost
- Train workers to recognize factors which may increase the risk of developing a heat related illness and the signs and symptoms of heat stress
- Train First Aid providers who should be available in the event of a heat-related illness2
- Health Canada. (2014). Environmental and Workplace Health – Ultraviolet Radiation. Retrieved from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/radiation/ultraviolet/index-eng.php
- Ontario Ministry of Labour (2014). Heat Stress. Retrieved from http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pdf/gl_heat.pdf