A major prevention campaign to raise employee awareness of the risks of thermal stress was successfully carried out last summer. Eight representatives were deployed in the region’s various facilities to inform employees about the behaviours to adopt or avoid in extreme heat.
During the summer, Rio Tinto hires students from a number of fields, including healthcare.
“The goal was to meet all Rio Tinto employees and contractors before the summer heat to avoid problems. The campaign had the desired effect thanks to the trainers’ enthusiasm. The staff really grasped the content,” says Carl Simard, Superintendent at Arvida Works’ West Smelter Centre.
The Thermal Stress Prevention Representatives (TSPR) first showed a video on thermal stress and then gave a 30-minute training session on how to recognise the signs of thermal stress and what to do if they occur. Preventive measures such as proper hydration, proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle were also discussed.
“Often, the biggest pitfall for employees is that they want to push their limits in the heat of the moment, when it’s wiser to listen to their bodies. Everyone appreciated this reminder to take care of themselves and their health,” says Marie-Josée Bonin, HSE Business Partner at P155.
Thermometers were installed in some locations to display the apparent temperature. The representatives monitored workers’ behaviours, measured their heart rates and interacted with them to make them aware of the importance of respecting time for breaks. Team members could also ask questions if they wanted to, since the representatives were close at hand.
They were on site for approximately four months. Their working hours allowed them to provide coverage seven days a week, at times that suited operational needs.
The success of the campaign is the result of a strong team effort. “Bringing together representatives from all sectors ensured that people were particularly committed to preventing thermal stress,” says Nancy Perron, Administrative Nurse.
The thermal stress prevention campaign is part of a continuous improvement process. The people involved in its deployment are currently taking stock of the campaign to improve health and safety initiatives starting next summer.