Keep your cool when it's hot: avoiding heat stress

The long Canadian winter is over and summer temperatures are here. The average temperature in Ontario in July and August is 27 °C – a temperature at which heat stress can be a risk for people taking part in outdoor activities at home or at work. Heat stress can take many forms, including loss of concentration leading to an increased risk while performing mental tasks or safety sensitive work.

Heat stress can take many forms, depending on the severity of external and internal factors and, of course, the condition of the individual. It’s important to take measures at this time of year to protect yourself and your staff from heat stress, including:

  • Be aware of the hazards of heat stress
  • Know how to recognize the symptoms
  • Plan work to allow for adequate rest and hydration breaks
  • If you manage a team or workplace, conduct regular inspections to identify potential hazards and ensure that the necessary controls to prevent an incident are in place
  • Report and investigate heat stress incidents that occur in the workplace
  • Provide necessary protective equipment and clothing

At Toronto Pearson, heat alerts are communicated through the Airport Operations Centre and the Airport Duty Manager. A heat alert will cause supervisors and managers to be notified of the Heat Advisory Status and will trigger the Hot Weather Response Plan.

Download this Safety Check for working in hot environments.

Heat stress and COVID-19

Personal protective equipment (PPE) like face coverings, masks, face shields, gloves, and eye protection has become a fact of life at work. While these protections may not increase the core body temperature and cause heat stress, employees may still feel hot and uncomfortable when wearing them. This discomfort could distract them from their tasks and present a safety hazard.

When employees are wearing PPE as part of their job, discuss symptoms and early warning signs of heat stress, including thirst, headache, heavy sweating, fatigue, increased body temperature, dizziness and decreased cognitive function. Encourage workers to monitor themselves and others for signs of heat stress and plan short cooling breaks. Get more information on how to stay safe when using COVID-19 PPE.

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