Hot and cold work environments can cause the body to undergo stress when there is a change in the environmental temperature, resulting in thermal stress to workers. Thermal stress is an important health and safety issue that needs to be addressed in a timely manner to avoid catastrophic effects on workers.
Thermal Stress has 2 components: heat stress and cold stress, either of which occurs when the core body temperature is no longer maintained at 36 to 37°C. Thermal stress is not the same as thermal comfort. Thermal comfort is when a person feels neither too hot or too cold, just comfortable. Depending on the work environment, the body adapts and maintains its temperature so that the employee can function optimally. A body adapts to hot temperatures by sweating and increasing skin blood flow to prevent body temperature from rising. While in cold temperatures, the body shivers and reduces skin blood flow to prevent body temperature from decreasing. However, in extreme conditions, the adaptation and maintenance processes are not enough and start to fail causing the body to undergo thermal stress.
Pembina Trails has two guidelines on thermal stress for staff: