It’s no secret that we have a wide range of weather in Canada. Edmonton and Calgary are always expecting snow (no matter the season), Kelowna expects sunshine, and it’s probably raining in Vancouver. Having a wide range of weather unfortunately means the forecast isn’t always right. Because of this, it’s important to make sure that all employees are prepared for the best and the worst conditions. Working outside adds some risk to labour workers depending on certain factors: How long will the crew be outside? Where is the work being done? What season is it? Asking these questions gives an idea of what hazards there are to help prepare for the work environment. We’ll be looking at the top four environmental hazards.
While summer is an ideal time for construction, the heat can be strenuous on employees. Working outside in hot weather without proper preparation can lead to heatstroke and heat exhaustion with the biggest symptoms being nausea and dizziness. Help your employees combat these risks and avoid these symptoms by ensuring:
- They are taking frequent short breaks in shaded areas.
- Encouraging frequent water breaks to help them stay hydrated.
Although cold in Canada usually means snow, cold weather doesn’t always mean winter. Extreme cold can be a combination of temperature, precipitation, dampness in air, and wind. If not careful, extreme cold can cause frostbite and hypothermia. Permanent and temporary labourers should also be aware that cold-related problems increase in those that take certain medications, are in poor physical condition, or have been diagnosed with illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. Symptoms of extreme cold are uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements, and feeling fatigued. Assist your employees in protecting themselves by ensuring that they are:
- Taking frequent short break in warm, dry areas.
- Drinking warm liquids.
- Wearing a hat, gloves, and at least three layers.
Make sure that they avoid coffee and smoking, as caffeine and nicotine can constrict blood flow.
Ultraviolet (UV) Rays
An overexposure to UV rays can put your employees at risk of skin cancer. Help them avoid this risk by:
- As with extreme heat, they take shaded breaks.
- Ensuring that they wear minimum 15 SPF sunscreen, sunglasses, lightweight long-sleeved shirts, and/or wide brimmed hats.
While chances of being struck by lightning are very low, construction workers are at higher risk due to working at different heights and handling conductive materials. Being struck by lightning can cause seizures or even cardiac arrest. Make sure that:
- Employees are checking for storm warnings.
- They take shelter if needed, preferably in the centre of buildings or inside a company vehicle with the windows closed until the storm passes.
Knowledge is Power
By training your employees in the use of appropriate attire, the ability to identify hot and cold related symptoms, illnesses, and injuries, and encouraging employees to share their ideas on how to create a safer workplace, you are promoting and bettering your workplace safety policy.
Constructive Labour Solutions specializes in and pride ourselves on preventing workplace related injuries and accidents, and with this have become an industry leader in workplace safety over the years. Do you have any questions about how we prepare our employees for their work environments? Contact us!