Employers asked to 'seriously consider shutting down' during heat wave: WorkSafeBC | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Employers asked to 'seriously consider shutting down' during heat wave: WorkSafeBC

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
June 29, 2021 - 6:30 AM

WorkSafeBC is advising employers to consider closing down their workplaces if employees cannot be protected from the risk of heat stress.

“All workers are potentially at risk,” Al Johnson, Head of Prevention Services at WorkSafeBC, said in a press release. “With the heatwave across B.C., we are warning employers and workers about the risk of developing heat stress. If not recognized and treated early, heat stress can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include excess sweating, dizziness, fainting and muscle cramps. Symptoms of heat stroke include cessation of sweating, an increased breathing rate, confusion, seizures and even cardiac arrest. 

To prevent heat-stress injuries, WorkSafeBC requires employers to conduct heat stress assessments. As appropriate, employers must have a heat stress mitigation plan that provides education and training in recognizing the symptoms of heat stress and heat stroke.

“If an employer cannot be assured that workers will be protected against heat stress, they should seriously consider shutting down their workplace during this extreme heat,” said Johnson.

In the last three years, there have been almost 100 accepted claims for work-related injuries caused by heat stress — and these are preventable injuries.

READ MORE: Dozens of heat records set in B.C. including hottest day ever in Canada

For the next three days the heat is expected to be blisteringly hot. Already, multiple all-time high temperature records have toppled and more are expected to fall.

Yesterday, June 28, Kamloops reached 44 C on Sunday, breaking its hottest ever day of 41.7 C set on July 16, 1941, and July 27, 1939. The forecast is for a high of  44 C today and 45 C tomorrow.

Kelowna wasn’t as hot, only reaching 41.5 C, but that broke its all-time high of 41 C set Aug. 4, 1998. The forecast is for a high of 42 C today and 43 C tomorrow and Wednesday.

Vernon also set an all-time high record of 41.5 C yesterday, eclipsing the 40 C set July 21, 1908. It is also forecast to reach 42 C today and 43 C tomorrow and Wednesday.

These temperatures also broke the record for June 27 in Kamloops, Kelowna and Vernon.

Penticton just missed setting a new all-time record but its 40.5 C did break the old record for June 27 of 37.8 C. The all-time high was 40.6 set on July 17, 1941. That should fall today as the city, too, is facing a 42 C high temperature today and 43 C tomorrow and Wednesday.

While the heat is expected to abate after Thursday, nobody is expecting a particularly cool stretch to follow.

"It's, it's quite possible that for the next couple of weeks we might be seeing at least somewhat above average temperatures, maybe not record breaking but above average," Bobby Skehon, a meteorologist from Environment Canada said.

"For the whole summer in general, we're predicting above-average temperatures, but again, we can't really say that there's going to be another heatwave coming up or there's going to be more record breaking temperatures later this summer."


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