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Heat wave prompts heat-injury warnings for B.C.’s outdoor workers

If not recognized and treated early, heat stress can lead to heatstroke, says WorkSafeBC
Men work at a construction site in downtown Toronto, on Thursday, June 30, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Eduardo Lima)

With the heat wave across B.C. expected to last for the next several days, WorkSafeBC is reminding outdoor workers about the risk of developing heat stress, which if not recognized and treated early can lead to heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

“In the last three years, there have been almost 100 accepted claims for work-related injuries caused by heat stress. These are preventable injuries,” said prevention field services manager Barry Nakahara.

“We’re reminding workers to reduce exposure to the sun wherever possible, drinking lots of water, wearing the right clothes and taking rest breaks in cool, well-ventilated areas.”

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include excess sweating, dizziness and muscle cramps while heatstroke symptoms include the cessation of sweating, an increased breathing rate, confusion and cardiac arrest.

WorkSafeBC requires employers to conduct heat stress assessments and have a mitigation plan in place providing workplace training on recognizing the symptoms of heatstroke.

RELATED: BC Hydro assures customers it has ‘more than enough’ power to weather the heatwave

Below are additional workers can take to prevent heat-injury:

– Drink plenty of water (one glass every 20 minutes).

– Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabric, such as cotton.

– Do hard physical work during the coolest parts of the day, before 11 a.m. and after 3 p.m.

– Know your personal risk factors, such as medications and any pre-existing conditions.

– Check the signs and symptoms for yourself and co-workers.

READ MORE: Record-breakingly hot temperatures forecast for B.C. this weekend

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