Josee R. Hache, a process operator and trainee for Syncrude’s 9-1 and 9-2 Hydrogen units understands that staying safe involves many factors working together.
Not only is it important to have robust safe work plans and accountability for personal safety, but looking after co-workers is also key. That’s why Josee and her colleague Ralph Terpin took initiative to distribute water bottles to workers after noticing signs of heat stress during hot days earlier this summer.
“Heat stress can’t always be identified by the person experiencing it. Therefore, it’s important for us to look out for one another and be aware of symptoms so we can intervene as necessary,” says Josee.
Josee observed workers who looked red in the face and were not sweating. She recognized these as possible symptoms of heat stress and immediately took action.
“Water coolers can’t go on top of structures since they can cause a safety hazard if they drop, which makes it difficult for workers to continuously climb up and down stairs to get water,” she adds. “We decided to take our tricycle bike and carry pallets of bottled water to these areas so they were more practical and easily accessible for those workers to stay hydrated.”
During periods of higher temperatures it’s recommended to take fluids and rest breaks every 20 minutes to stay hydrated. Also, work plans should consider heat advisories for guidance on how to safely work in the heat.
“I’m grateful I could identify concerns to help others return home in good health,” says Josee.
When we show others that we care about their well-being, it opens up lines of communication and helps us all work together safely.
Symptoms of heat stress include muscle cramps, headache, nausea, weakness, dizziness, faintness, vomiting, extreme tiredness, fast breathing, and fast heart pumping. Symptoms of heat stress to watch for in others include red face and skin, excessive sweating or no sweating, fast breathing, stumbling or confusion.