AROUND THE PROVINCES: General Cold Stress Requirements

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Some safety hazards are intangible. For example, working outside during the winter in the cold and wind can be quite hazardous. Exposure to freezing temperatures and/or high winds can result in frostbite and hypothermia. In addition, workers can be at risk of cold stress even when the temperature is moderate—and even indoors when working in, say, walk-in freezers. As a result, employers must take steps to protect workers from cold-stress related illnesses. Here are the general cold stress requirements in the OHS regulations in each jurisdiction. For those jurisdictions without specific cold stress requirements, the duty to address this hazard is implied by the so-called “general duty” clause.

KNOW THE LAWS: General Cold Stress Requirements
FED Canada OHS Regulations don’t contain specific cold stress requirements
AB OHS Code 2009 doesn’t contain specific cold stress requirements
BC OHS Regulation:

1. Secs. 7.34 to 7.38 apply to a workplace if a worker is or may be exposed to:

a. thermal conditions that could cause cold stress or injury;
b. thermal conditions that could cause a worker’s core body temperature to fall below 36°C (96.8°F); or
c. thermal conditions that are below the levels classified as “little danger” to workers in the criteria for the cooling power of wind on exposed flesh in the cold stress section of the ACGIH Standard [Sec. 7.33].

2. If a worker is or may be exposed to the conditions specified in Sec. 7.33, the employer must:

a. conduct a cold stress assessment to determine the potential for hazardous exposure of workers, using measures and methods that are acceptable to the Board; and
b. develop and implement a cold exposure control plan meeting the requirements of Sec. 5.54(2) [Sec. 7.34].

3. If a worker is or may be exposed to the conditions specified in Sec. 7.33, the employer must implement effective engineering controls to reduce the exposure hazard to levels above those classified as “little danger” to workers in the criteria for the cooling power of wind on exposed flesh in the cold stress section of the ACGIH Standard [Sec. 7.35(1)].

4. If the action described above isn’t practicable, the employer must reduce the exposure hazard by providing:

a. effective administrative controls; or
b. PPE, if the equipment provides protection equally effective as administrative controls [Sec. 7.35(2)].

5. If a worker is exposed to a thermal environment with an equivalent chill temperature less than -7°C (19°F), as determined using the criteria for the cooling power of wind on exposed flesh in the cold stress section of the ACGIH Standard, a nearby heated shelter must be available to the worker [Sec. 7.36].

6. A worker who is or may be exposed to the conditions referred to in Sec. 7.33 must wear adequate insulating clothing and personal protective equipment [Sec. 7.37(1)].

7. If work takes place outdoors in snow or ice covered terrain where excessive ultraviolet light, glare or blowing ice crystals present a risk of injury to the eyes, workers must wear eye protection appropriate to the hazards [Sec. 7.37(2)].

8. If a worker exposed to cold shows signs or reports symptoms of cold stress or injury, the worker must be removed from further exposure and treated by an appropriate first aid attendant, if available, or a physician [Sec. 7.38].

MB Workplace Safety and Health Regulation:

1. When a workplace or work process exposes a worker to conditions that may create a risk to the worker’s safety or health because of heat or cold, an employer must implement safe work procedures and control measures to ensure that:

a. the threshold limit values for thermal stress established by the ACGIH in its publication, Threshold Limit Value for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents and Biological Indices, are followed; and
b. the worker is provided with information, instruction and training in the symptoms of thermal stress and the precautions to be taken to avoid injury from thermal stress [Sec. 4.12].
NB OHS General Regulation:

1. Where an employee is exposed to work conditions that may present a hazard because of extreme heat or extreme cold, an employer must ensure that:

a. a competent person measures and records the thermal conditions at frequent intervals and makes the findings available to a committee, if any, and to an officer on request; and
b. the threshold limit values for protection against heat stress and cold stress are followed as well as the work-rest regimen for heat and the work-warming regimen for cold and other advice found from pages 125 to 140 of the ACGIH publication “1997 Threshold Limit Values for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents and Biological Exposure Indices” [Sec. 22].

2. Where an employee is exposed to work conditions that may present a hazard because of excessive cold, an employer must ensure that a competent person instructs the employee in the significance of symptoms of cold stress such as severe shivering, pain in the extremities of the body and reduced mental awareness and in the precautions to be taken to avoid injury from cold stress [Sec. 23(2)].

3. Where an employee is exposed to a hazard from extreme heat or extreme cold, the employee must use adequate protective clothing [Sec. 44].

NL OHS Regulations, 2012:

1. An employer must ensure that a thermal environment which is reasonable and consistent with the nature and degree of the work performed, as established by the ACGIH, is provided and maintained in a workplace [Sec. 44(1)].

2. An employer must provide appropriate and suitable monitoring equipment in a workplace where the thermal environment is likely to pose a hazard to a worker [Sec. 44(2)].

3. Under unusually hot or cold working conditions, an employer must make further provision for the health and safety and reasonable thermal comfort of a worker, which may include:

a. regular monitoring, posting of warning devices and additional first aid measures;
b. provision of special equipment and clothing;
c. provision of screens or shelters;
d. medical supervision, hot or cold drinks and acclimatization procedures;
e. limited work schedules with rest periods; and
f. other appropriate controls and measures [Sec. 44(3)].
NT/
NU
General Safety Regulations:

1. An employer must ensure that a worker exposed to cold wears suitable liners for protective headgear required by these regulations [Sec. 44(2)].

NS Occupational Safety General Regulations don’t contain specific cold stress requirements
ON Industrial Establishments Regulation:

1. Subject to designated exceptions, an enclosed workplace must be at a temperature:

a. suitable for the type of work performed; and
b. not less than 18° C [Sec. 129(1)].
PE OHS Regulations:

1. An employer must ensure that, subject to designated exceptions in Sec. 11.11, the temperature of an enclosed workplace corresponds with minimum temperatures specified in the enclosed chart [Sec. 11.10].

2. Permissible heat and cold exposure must conform to Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) as laid down by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) [Sec. 42.1].

QC Regulation respecting occupational health and safety:

1. Schedule IV spells out the minimum temperatures required in establishments based on the type of work performed.

SK OHS Regulations:

1. Subject to Sec. 70(3), in an indoor place of employment, an employer, contractor or owner must provide and maintain thermal conditions, including air temperature, radiant temperature, humidity and air movement, that:

a. are appropriate to the nature of the work performed;
b. provide effective protection for the health and safety of workers; and
c. provide reasonable thermal comfort for workers [Sec. 70(1)].

2. At an indoor place of employment where the thermal environment is likely to be a health or safety concern to the workers, an employer, contractor or owner must provide and maintain an appropriate and suitably located instrument for measuring the thermal conditions [Sec. 70(2)].

3. Where it’s not reasonably practicable to control thermal conditions or where work is being performed outdoors, an employer, contractor or owner must provide and maintain measures for:

a. the effective protection of the health and safety of workers; and
b. the reasonable thermal comfort of workers [Sec. 70(3)].

4. Measures for the purposes set out above may include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

a. frequent monitoring of thermal conditions;
b. the provision of special or temporary equipment, including screens, shelters and temporary heating or cooling equipment;
c. the provision of suitable clothing or personal protective equipment;
d. the provision of hot or cold drinks;
e. the use of acclimatization or other physiological procedures;
f. the use of limited work schedules with rest and recovery periods, changes in workloads, changes in hours or other arrangements for work;
g. frequent observation of workers by a person who’s trained to recognize the symptoms of physiological stress resulting from extreme temperatures; and
h. the provision of emergency supplies for use when travelling under extremely cold or inclement weather conditions [Sec. 70(4)].

5. Where a worker’s required to work in thermal conditions that are different from those associated with the worker’s normal duties, an employer or contractor must provide, and require the worker to use, any suitable clothing or other PPE that’s necessary to protect the health and safety of the worker [Sec. 70(5)].

YT Occupational Health Regulations:

1. Every employer must provide and maintain in every indoor place of employment thermal conditions, including air temperature, radiant temperature, humidity and air movement, which are reasonable and appropriate to the nature of the work performed [Sec. 9(1)].

2. At every indoor place of employment where the thermal environment is likely to be of discomfort or danger to the workers, the employer must provide an appropriate and suitably located instrument for measuring the thermal conditions [Sec. 9(2)].

3. Where it’s not reasonably practicable to control thermal conditions pursuant to the above or where the work’s being performed outdoors, the employer must provide effective protection for the health and safety and reasonable thermal comfort of workers [Sec. 9(3)].

4. Such protection may include:

a. frequent monitoring of thermal conditions;
b. special or temporary equipment such as screens, shelters and temporary heating or cooling equipment;
c. special clothing or personal protective equipment;
d. hot or cold drinks, acclimatization or other physiological procedures;
e. limited work schedules with rest and recovery periods, changes in workloads, changes in hours or other arrangements for work; and
f. any other appropriate measure [Sec. 9(3)].