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Operations Safety Bulletin
09-2020 Prevention of Heat Stress Injuries and Illness

Original: 2020-08-05 Revised: n/a Approved by Marc Mes, Director General, Operations, on August 5, 2020.

Posting instructions:

This notice is to be posted in a place accessible to all employees for a period of 6 months.

On this page

Target audience

All Canadian Coast Guard Personnel.


The purpose of this safety bulletin is to provide general guidance in the prevention of heat stress related illnesses and injuries. The document also guides decision making beyond national standard operating procedures (NSOPs) when selecting appropriate control measures, including personal protective equipment (PPE), in a pandemic situation and during hot weather conditions.


Heat-related illnesses from working in hot conditions, whether indoors or outdoors, are a serious safety concern. The ability to identify warning signs and take appropriate action is the first step in prevention.

NSOPs provide both general and specific guidance on the control measures to be followed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, NSOPs cannot address every scenario of operational activity. Control measures, including the use of PPE, must not create further risk or another hazard for the health and safety of the employee. Therefore, the final decision for control measures must still be based on risk assessments of specific environments and risk of exposure.

For example: Environmental temperatures have recently raised concerns associated with the use of impermeable protective clothing/apparel (for example, Tyvek suits) in hot weather and risks for heat stress injuries. Studies have shown that wearing Tyvek suits increases the heat stress upon an individual due largely to their impermeabilityFootnote 1. This must be taken into consideration when risk managing the use of these suits; the risks of wearing versus not wearing the suit must be measured in each situation. For instance, when responding to a situation whereby pre-screening has indicated a low or no risk of COVID-19, it may be assessed that the use of the coveralls unnecessarily increases the risk of heat stress and the decision to opt out of using it is preferable. On the other hand, where the suits are deemed necessary, such as in the case of asbestos removal or because COVID-19 transmission risk is high, then the implementation of prevention measures described below must also be adhered to, particularly work-rest ratio determinations.

Identifying heat stress injuries / illness

First aid

  1. For heat stroke, call 911 immediately. Heat stroke is a medical emergency.
  2. Get medical aid. Stay with the person until help arrives.
  3. Move to a cooler, shaded location.
  4. Remove as many clothes as possible (including socks and shoes).
  5. Apply cool, wet cloths or ice to the head, face or neck. Spray with cool water.
  6. If heat stoke is not present, encourage the person to drink water, clear juice or a sports drink. In a heat stroke situation, do not try to force the person to drink liquids.


Prevention is the key to protection. Supervisors and managers should establish heat illness prevention procedures within their areas of responsibility. Procedures must include:

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety provides guidance on control measures including the utilization of heat index system when determining level of heat risk and recommended best practices when implementing work/rest schedules.

Other strategies for reducing heat-related health hazards include the following:


Enquiries regarding this Operations Safety Bulletin should be directed to:

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