Warehouse and factory management staff need to proactively plan for how they will accommodate employees who perform physically demanding work in the heat of summer. This is a growing safety concern—numerous employees suffer from heat exhaustion at work each year.
The Ministry of Labour is placing more emphasis on companies and staffing services sharing liability for workplace injuries and accidents, so it is critical that you partner with your staffing firm to design a plan that will help protect your workforce, full-time or temporary, to make sure work gets done in a safe and healthy manner.
STRATEGIES TO AVOID HEAT STRESS
Here are some tips for keeping workers safe in the heat:
- Change shift times so that heavy work is done in the coolest part of the day, or even during overnight shifts.
- Provide more frequent breaks to allow for rest and recuperation.
- Encourage frequent water breaks, and add more water/drinking stations around the workplace.
- Open truck/bay doors in distributions, and bring in standing fans to circulate cooler air through the work area.
- Provide or encourage the use of hats, sunblock, and sunglasses, as well as light-coloured, cotton fabrics for work clothes to keep skin protected from the sun and biting insects.
- Schedule more people on-shift for fewer hours during cooler parts of the day (perhaps even a “split shift” arrangement).
Using these techniques will help prevent heat exhaustion in the workplace.
AWARENESS IS THE KEY TO WORKPLACE SAFETY
It’s also crucial to make sure employees recognize the symptoms of heat stress, including nausea, dizziness, weakness, and concentration issues, and encourage them to report any concerns to their supervisor.
Check out these downloadable resources from the Occupational Health and Safety Council of Ontario (OHSCO), including a poster with heat-stress prevention tips for your employee bulletin board, and a guidebook with tips on managing heat stress in the workplace.