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Heat Stress

Picture of warm summer sunset

Heat stress occurs when the body no longer has enough water to cool itself down. This causes dehydration, increasing internal temperature. If the internal temperature exceeds 38°C, severe harm to the body or even death may occur.

Factors that can contribute to this are increased temperature and humidity, personal protective equipment (PPE), physical work, and the work environment.


Heat Cramps Heat Exhaustion Heat Stroke
  • Painful muscle cramps

If left untreated, may lead to heat exhaustion

  • Shallow breathing
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Sweating
  • Headache and nausea
  • Fainting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Increased heart rate
  • Pale, cool, clammy skin

If left untreated, may lead to heat stroke

  • Sweating stops
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Hot, dry, flushed skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Shock
  • Irregular pulse
  • Seizures
  • Cardiac arrest
  • If you have any of these symptoms during extreme heat, move to a cool place and drink liquids right away.
  • Call 911 if you are caring for someone who has a high body temperature and is either unconscious, confused or has stopped sweating.
  • While waiting for help – cool the person right away by: moving them to a cool place, applying cold water to large areas of their skin or clothing, and fanning the person as much as possible
See Our Heat Stress Safety Talk

Working in the Heat

In temperatures above the thermal comfort zone, often with the added perils of humidity, slow wind speed and a lack of shade, many outdoor workers find it difficult to escape the heat. Take measures to protect workers from heat stress by avoiding heavy exertion tasks, extreme heat, sun exposure, and high humidity when possible.

Provide plenty of Water

Workers should drink water continuously throughout the day.

Allow frequent breaks

Allow workers to rest and cool off in a cool area such as shade or air-conditioned buildings or vehicles.

Set up Shade Structures

If possible, it is a good idea to erect temporary shelters or move some tasks indoors or in the shade. At the very least, workers should take advantage of rest breaks to get out of the sun.

Plan Your Work

Schedule lighter tasks between 11am and 4pm, saving more strenuous work for the cooler hours of the day.

Wear Proper Clothing

Have workers wear loose, light, breathable clothing, UV-rated sunglasses, and a wide-brim hat.

Sunscreen of at least 30 SPF should be applied at least every two hours, or more frequently if sweating. Unfortunately, sunscreen also blocks the pores of the skin, restricting perspiration and evaporation (the body’s natural cooling process). Clothing and shade are the best sun protection.

Note that protective equipment may increase heat retention! Work requiring this equipment should be scheduled at cooler times or allow for more frequent breaks.

Learn more

Published: July 20, 2020

“Tip Card: Outdoor Heat Stress”, SAFE Work Manitoba, www.safemanitoba.com/Resources/Pages/tips-heat.aspx

“Heat Stress and Your Health”, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, www.ccohs.ca/newsletters/hsreport/issues/2013/07/ezine.html

About Virtual Classes


Virtual courses will be held on Zoom. It is possible to use Zoom online, but we recommend downloading the app onto your device. Each participant will need a device with a camera for video and audio.

Create an Account and Download Zoom
Quick Zoom Guide for New Users

Ahead of class, we recommend you:

  • Sign up for Zoom and download app onto your device,
  • Print all course materials (they will be sent to you before the course),
  • Make sure your camera, microphone, and speakers are working.

The Safetys: S2SA Safety Champion Nominations

The Safetys

The Safetys was created to present several Manitoba occupational safety and health awards at one signature event. This year, The Safetys will be held virtually, with the awards being announced at thesafetys.ca Wednesday, October 7.

Learn more about The Safetys
The S2SA Safety Champion Award

The S2SA Safety Champion Award serves to recognize an individual’s dedication to health and safety in the sales and service industry in Manitoba. This award is for any individual and is not limited to those who are employed in a safety-specific capacity within their organization.

The nominated individual must be employed with a member of the Sales and Service Safety Association (S2SA).

Nominations now closed for 2020. Please check back June 2021.

S2SA Safety Champion – Nomination Application 2020

Submit Complete Nomination Form

Summer Safety

Picture of warm summer sunset over a lake with grasses in the foreground.
With the arrival of warmer weather comes an increase in the chance of injuries as people spend more time outdoors and doing activities that can put them at risk. Although summer activities can be a lot of fun, we should always take proper precautions to avoid any injuries in ourselves and others.

Here are some simple summer safety tips to keep you safe:

Sun Safety

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) can cause sunburn, premature skin aging, eye damage, and cancer. Be sure to check the UV Index — The higher the number, the greater the need to take precautions.

Inforgraphic from coohs.ca

Protect your skin

  • Avoid unnecessary exposure to sun, especially between 11am – 4pm
  • Seek shaded areas such as trees, buildings or canopies, or bring your own (e.g., an umbrella).
  • Wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible and a wide-brimmed hat, as appropriate to the activity and weather.
  • Use sunscreen labelled “broad spectrum” and “water resistant” with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 on skin not covered by clothing. Apply sunscreen generously and reapply often.
  • Avoid getting a sunburn and avoid intentional tanning.
  • Outdoor workers should be provided access to water and encouraged to take breaks in areas where they can cool down.

Protect your eyes

  • Wear sunglasses or eyeglasses with UV protective lenses.
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat for added eye protection.
Learn more about Sun Safety at Work

Thunder Storm Safety

When thunder roars, go indoors!

Knowing what to do when lightning is close is especially important for people who work outdoors. Pay attention to weather conditions and forecasts to allow time to plan and react appropriately.

Take Shelter in a Building or Vehicle

  • The safest place to be during a thunderstorm is in a well-constructed building — fully enclosed with a roof, walls and floor with electrical wiring, plumbing, telephone line, or antennas to ground the lightning should the building be hit directly.
  • The next best place for shelter is an enclosed metal car, truck or van but NOT a tractor, golf cart, topless or soft-top vehicle. Make sure the vehicle is not parked near trees or other tall objects that could fall over during a storm. Be aware of downed power lines that may be touching your car. You are safe inside the car, but you may receive a shock if you step outside.

If You Can’t Reach Shelter

  • While there is no safe place to be outdoors during a thunderstorm, there are areas that might be less dangerous, and help reduce the risk of being struck by lightning.
  • Stay away from things that are tall and other objects that conduct electricity (tractors, metal fences, lawnmowers, golf clubs).
  • Do not become the prime target by being the highest object on the landscape. Take shelter in low-lying areas such as valleys or ditches but watch for flooding.
  • If you are with a group of people in the open, spread out several metres apart from one another.
  • If you get caught in a level field far from shelter, crouch down on the balls of your feet immediately, with feet together, place your arms around your knees and bend forward. Be the smallest target possible, and at the same time, minimize your contact with the ground. Don’t lie flat.
Learn more about Environmental Disaster Preparedness

Bug Safety

Mosquitoes can cause a number of illnesses, including West Nile Virus. Protect yourself at work and play.

For workers, employers should provide education about the risk of mosquito-borne illness and supply mosquito repellant.

Prevent Bites

  • Use insect repellant with DEET and wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants.
  • Do not leave doors or windows propped open.
  • Remove standing water where possible.
  • Turn on air conditioning; mosquitoes prefer warm, damp and dark spaces.

Published: June 22, 2020

“Enhancing Sun Safety in Canadian Workplaces”, Sun Safety at Work, sunsafetyatwork.ca

“Prepare for Emergency and Disaster for Individuals and Business”, Manitoba Infrastructure, www.gov.mb.ca/emo/prepare/home/prepare.html

“Reduce the Threat of Zika Virus and Other Mosquito-borne Illnesses”, The National Safety Council, www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/summer/zika

Steps Taken for Safe Classes

Illustration of three people wearing masks and distancing

As we start up our courses again, we are taking steps for safe classes to ensure the safety of students and facilitators.

These steps include:

  • Class sizes have been reduced 9-11 max.
  • Each participant will be seated at their own table and tables will be spaced 2 metres apart.
  • Participants will be asked a series of COVID-19 exposure questions 1 day before the course and responses will be verified upon arrival for the training. In the event that you cannot attend the course based on your exposure, you will be rescheduled.
  • Sanitizer is available and will be required upon entry to the training room.
  • Coffee, tea, or snacks will not be provided.
  • The training room will be cleaned and sanitized before and after each day of training. This includes sanitizing all hard surfaces such as tables, chairs, door handles, etc.
  • All course materials will be emailed electronically prior to the course. If possible, please bring a tablet or computer with the files saved ready to use during the course. We will also have printouts prepared well in advance and handled with clean gloves, but electronic is recommended.
  • Participants are expected to follow good hygiene practices, click here for more information.

Positive COVID-19 Worker

Illustration of coronavirus

An employee at my workplace tested positive. What information should I provide to other employees and customers?

Businesses are advised NOT to provide any personal health information about an employee to staff or customers. Public Health conducts a public health investigation to determine if someone who is confirmed to have COVID-19 was at work during the time they were infectious.

Public health officials work closely with people who have tested positive for COVID-19. This includes addressing their health concerns and determining who they may have had close, prolonged contact with when they were infectious. Public health officials will then directly contact every person deemed to be a close contact, defined as having had significant exposure to the positive COVID-19 individual when they were infectious. Public health makes contact as quickly as possible with all identified contacts.

If any additional measures need to be taken at your workplace, public health officials will call you directly to provide advice.

See our printableCOVID-19 Positive Test in the Workplacefor more information.

Published: April 27, 2020

“What happens if there is a COVID-19 laboratory diagnosis in my workplace?”, #RestartMB, www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/gomemployees/guides/diagnosis.html

Maintaining Morale

coronavirus illustration

Helping your workers maintain their morale is key to keeping your organization going.

Morale is not about false positivity or false security. It’s about being clear, communicating effectively, and reassuring people where you can to maintain productivity as much as possible and reduce the distraction caused by fear. These are key tenets to great leadership that will help you to make sure morale is built AND sustained, both now and into the future.

Show Trust:

Checking in daily is good. It’s important to have conversations and meetings so that you know what your workers are doing, but too many meetings and calls will give people the sense that you are checking up on them. It also makes it hard for people to get their work done.

Be careful of creating restrictive rules about your need to “see” what people are doing versus giving them room to do the work. Shift your mindset to the idea that people want to do their best work.

Create Connection:

In the workplace, we often rely on physical proximity for creating connections. Working while maintaining social distancing provides fewer of those opportunities, and people will miss them greatly. As a leader, it’s crucial that you are intentional about creating ways for people to stay connected to each other, to you, and to the work overall.

Sharing information from your organization helps people know what is going on in the company. Include stories of success, humour, and empathy in your internal communications now too. You may want to call on your Gen Z and millennial employees for their ideas on how to stay connected virtually. Give them opportunities to lead where they can.

For example, S2SA has weekly virtual group meetings, to keep updated on what everyone is doing, as well as two group chat “channels”: One for work and one for sharing cute pictures of our pets while we work remotely! Even if your organization is not working remotely, virtual meetings and workplace chat channels can help fulfill the social aspects of work while working further apart.

Give Direction:

Given the distractions in the world, people may be struggling to stay focused. They may want to do good work but are feeling pulled toward the relentless news cycle. Be clear about your expectations.

Help employees understand what their priorities are. Either set priorities for them or ask them to send you what they see as their most important pieces of work. Agree on the priorities, being careful not to overwhelm, and set an overall time frame.

Share appreciation:

This may seem obvious, but employees often identify appreciation as lacking in organizations. This is a major contributor to poor employee engagement. Often, leaders do appreciate what their people are doing but fail to prioritize sharing it. Again, false positivity is not what is needed. Genuine, heartfelt appreciation for the work getting done and the contributions people are making is absolutely crucial right now.

Published: April 29, 2020

Picot, Lianne. “Maintaining Morale Now and Into the Future”, The Conference Board of Canada, 26 March 2020, www.conferenceboard.ca/insights/blogs/maintaining-morale-now-and-into-the-future

Social Distancing in the Workplace

coronavirus illustration

Social distancing is key to protecting staff from COVID-19 and helping to limit the spread of the outbreak overall.

For the sales and service industry, remote working isn’t generally a possibility, so how do you enact social distancing in the workplace?

Here are some tips:
  • Increase distance between work-stations,
  • Encourage Employees to stay at home if sick,
  • Stop handshaking as a greeting,
  • Hold meetings via video conferencing or phone call (even within the office),
  • Defer large meetings,
  • Hold essential meetings outside in the open air if possible,
  • Encourage proper hand-washing techniques,
  • Promote good sneeze/cough hygiene,
  • Provide hand sanitizer for all staff and workers,
  • Have staff take lunch at their desks or outside (weather permitting) rather than in the lunch room,
  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly,
  • Consider opening windows and adjusting air conditioning for more ventilation,
  • Limit food handling and sharing of food in the workplace,
  • Reconsider non-essential business travel,
  • Consider if large gatherings can be rescheduled, staggered or cancelled.

These methods can be used to provide protection to all workers until the situation has stabilized.

Published: March 25, 2020

More Information for the Workplace

Good Hygiene Practices

Illustration of coronavirus

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.

How COVID-19 spreads

COVID-19 spreads person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

It may also be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

As such, it is important to maintain proper hygiene.

Ways you can reduce or slow the spread of infections include:
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Stay home if you are sick (so you do not spread the illness to other people).
  • Use a tissue, or cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not your hand. Turn away from other people.
  • Use single-use tissues. Dispose of the tissue immediately.
  • Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or using tissues.
  • Regularly sanitize surfaces.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth (viruses can transfer from your hands and into the body).
  • Do not share cups, glasses, dishes or cutlery.
Cough Etiquette Poster for the Workplace

The most important way to reduce the spread of infections is hand washing – always wash regularly with soap and water.

How to properly wash your hands:
  • Use water and wet your hands thoroughly.
  • Use soap (1-3 mL) and lather very well.
  • Lather with soap for at least 15 seconds – make sure you wash between your fingers, under your finger nails, front and backs of your hands, wrists, and forearms.
  • Rinse thoroughly under clean, running water. Use a rubbing motion.
  • Dry your hands with a paper towel or clean towel or use an air dryer.
  • Turn off the taps/faucets with a paper towel (so you do not re-contaminate your hands).
  • Protect your hands from touching dirty surfaces as you leave the bathroom. For example, use the same paper towel to open the door.

Illustration of how to properly wash hands

Hand Washing Poster for the Workplace
Workplaces can help by having an infection control plan which includes:
  • Having an infection control plan.
  • Providing clean handwashing facilities.
  • Offering alcohol-based hand sanitizers when regular facilities are not available (or to people on the road).
  • Providing boxes of tissues and encourage their use.
  • Reminding staff to not share cups, glasses, dishes and cutlery. Be sure dishes are washed in soap and water after use.
  • Removing magazines and papers from waiting areas or common rooms (such as tea rooms and kitchens).
  • Considering cleaning a person’s workstation or other areas where they have been if a person has suspected or identified with an infection.
  • Making sure ventilation systems are working properly.
More Information for Employers

Published: March 25, 2020

“Ensuring Safe/Health Workplaces”, Manitoba.ca, manitoba.ca/covid19/protection/workplaces.html

Coping with Stress

Illustration of coronavirus

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.

Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones.
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
  • Worsening of chronic health problems.
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:
  • People at higher risk for COVID-19.
  • Children and teens.
  • People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors and other health care providers, or first responders.
  • People who have mental health conditions (including problems with substance use).

People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms.

Things everyone can do for self-care:
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

Encourage staff to call or visit their healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of daily activities.

Coping with Stress Poster

Published: March 25, 2020

“Mental health & COVID-19”, World Health Organization, www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/covid-19