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Safety and Health at Work > Dealing with workers’ heat stress in outdoor working during the summer months

Safety and Health at Work



Dealing with workers’ heat stress in outdoor working during the summer months

During the summer months, exposure to extreme weather conditions which prevail in Cyprus is one of the biggest risks to the safety, health and well being of workers.

Work in sheltered workplaces when scorching heat conditions exist is legally regulated. Gaps exist in the case of work in open workplaces, such as building sites and agricultural work.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance, as the competent authority for safeguarding a suitable work environment, enforces the decision taken by the Minister of Labour and Social Insurance during the Labour Advisory Committee’s session on 5.7.2002 for dealing with heat stress of workers in outdoor work activities during the summer months. The decision provides for the following:
  1. Issue and use of the Code of Measures for dealing with heat exposure of workers in outdoor work activities during the summer months. This Code of Measures will have no legal standing, will operate on a trial basis and will be considered a gentleman’s agreement between the social partners, members of the Labour Advisory Committee.
  2. The Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance will issue relevant announcements to be published in the daily press in cases where it is expected that scorching heat conditions will prevail, in order to inform and protect workers and employers.

The basic provisions of the Code of Measures for dealing with heat stress of workers in outdoor working during the summer months are the following:
  1. The general measures needed to reduce harmful effects caused by thermal exposure of workers in outdoor working during the summer months are defined.
  2. The circumstances under which regulation of work is required are defined. Specifically, when prevailing dry bulb temperature combined with relative humidity result in a corrected effective temperature greater than 30°C, work must be stopped.
  3. The Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance expects to issue announcements in the cases when the corrected effective temperature at 9.00 am exceeds 26°C. According to data from the Meteorological Service the occurrence, during the afternoon hours, of serious scorching heat conditions (corrected effective temperature greater than 30°C), can be foreseen if, at 9.00 am, conditions of average scorching heat (corrected effective temperature 26°C) exist.


Code of Measures for dealing with thermal stress of workers in outdoor worksites during the summer months

1. General Measures
The following general measures aim to reduce the harmful effects of thermal exposure of workers at outdoor worksites during the summer months:
    • Issuing and using suitable head cover
    • Issuing potable cool water (10-15°C) and in general issuing abundant supply of cool water to workers
    • Configuring / selecting shady worksites or erecting suitable canopies for carrying out work, wherever this is possible.
    • Designing the work schedule in such a way that labour intensive activities are conducted when temperatures are lower.

2. Adjustments
To avoid exposure to solar radiation, adjustments must be made to include interruption or change in the time frame for carrying out work, when dry bulb temperatures combined with relative humidity are as shown in TABLE I below.

TABLE I (Conditions requiring adjustment of work schedule)

Dry Bulb Temperature (°C)
Relative Humidity
Corrected Effective Temperature (°C)
36
50
30
37
45
30
38
39
30
39
34
30
40
29
30
41
26
30
42
23
30
43
20
30

3. Explanatory notes
    (a) The Corrected Effective Temperature listed in the third column in Table I corresponds to the Corrected Effective Temperature calculated under conditions of negligible wind speed.

    (b) Using data provided by the Meteorological Service, it is concluded that the appearance, during the afternoon hours, of conditions of serious scorching heat and therefore conditions which necessitate the regulation of work conditions, can be forecasted if at 9.00 am conditions of average scorching heat prevail (Corrected Effective Temperature approx. 26°C).

    (c) Using the aforementioned information, it is possible to forecast early in the morning conditions where the upper limit values in Table I will be exceeded and hence inform employers and employees if measures need to be taken by means of an announcement. Confirmation of the forthcoming scorching heat can be carried out if, starting at 9.00 am, temperature and humidity conditions are as in Table II.

TABLE II (Scorching Heat forecasting conditions)

Dry Bulb Temperature (°C)
Relative Humidity
Corrected Effective Temperature (°C)
27
89
26
28
77
26
29
66
26
30
56
26
31
51
26
32
44
26
33
36
26
34
30
26
35
25
26
36
21
26

    (d) The upper limit values of safe exposure (3rd column in Table I) are calculated according to the fact that workers bear light summer clothing. In cases where special clothing is required for carrying out specialised work, then the above upper limit values are not valid and become stricter.

    (e) The above upper limit values concern workers who are not included in high risk groups, i.e. those who do not belong to these categories:
      • Patients suffering cardiological problems
      • Patients suffering respiratory problems
      • Those suffering from general ailments which negatively affect the workers’ psychosomatic health (diabetes, anaema, arterial pressure disturbance, renal failure, psychological disorders)
      • Pregnant and breast-feeding mothers.

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