Extreme heat is a potential workplace hazard for workers who work outdoors and in some indoor settings. The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to assess heat-related hazards and take all reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of workers.

“Alberta summers can add safety risks for those working outside or in other hot environments. Keeping hydrated and taking time to cool down is critical to maintaining healthy and safe workplaces. I encourage employers and workers to work together to minimize the risks of hot temperatures so that everyone can return home safely.”

Kaycee Madu, Minister of Labour and Immigration

Employers and workers should be aware of the early signs of heat stress and treat it immediately. Signs include:

  • irritability
  • headache
  • dizziness and fatigue
  • heavy sweating
  • dehydration (may include a reduced ability to sweat)
  • muscle cramps
  • heat rash

These symptoms can progress to heat stroke, a life-threatening condition requiring immediate medical attention.

What employers can do:

  • provide plenty of cool drinking water
  • reduce physical activity demands on workers, change the work location to a cooler, shaded area, and create a cooling station where workers can rest
  • use a work/rest schedule with extra breaks if needed
  • allow workers to acclimatize by gradually increasing the time spent working outdoors or in other hot environments
  • schedule physically demanding jobs for cooler times of the day
  • start the work day earlier when it’s cooler and end the work day before the heat hits its peak
  • train and educate workers to recognize signs of heat stress.

What workers can do:

  • stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water
  • wear suitable clothing for the heat in combination with any needed personal protective equipment
  • alert their supervisor or employer if they’re feeling heat stress symptoms
  • work at a pace that does not produce heat stress symptoms

Susceptibility to heat-related injury or illness varies from person to person. Factors such as age, medical conditions, general health and fitness level and whether a worker is acclimatized to heat can make people more or less susceptible to feeling extreme heat.