Workers struggling with record-breaking heat flood Finland’s work safety hotlines

Workers are struggling with record-breaking heat in Finnish Lapland. (Ryan Soulliere/Radio-Canada)
Calls to Finland’s occupational health and safety authorities have increased in recent weeks due to the ongoing heat wave.

On Tuesday, Sodankylä in central Lapland (Northern Finland) recorded its highest temperature in more than 100 years, as mercury climbed to 31.8 degrees, topping the previous high of 31.7 degrees from 1914.

The national telephone service of the Occupational Health and Safety Authority receives numerous calls every day regarding the temperatures at workplace.

“People usually ask how to keep cool and how many breaks can be taken,” says Sauli Riimala from the Regional State Administrative Agency.

According to Riimala, occupational safety regulations do not provide clear guidelines on temperatures but most employers follow the advice by the health officials.

10-minute breaks, stay indoors

They recommend that if temperatures at a workplace climb to 28 degrees Celsius, the staff is allowed to take a 10-minute break each hour, Riimala says.

The employer also must provide drinks, he adds.

“Tap water is sufficient. Any carbonated drinks would be above and beyond of what is required.”

The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) suggests that during the hottest hours of the day, people should remain inside and avoid exercising outdoors.

It is also important to stay hydrated while abstaining from caffeinated and alcoholic drinks, THL says.

A state-owned sustainable development company Motiva provides tips on how to keep houses cool during the heat wave.

Motiva advises that doors and windows should be kept closed during the day, curtains drawn and electrical appliances, including the sauna stove, should not be turned on.

If, despite these measures, the temperature inside remains unbearable, THL advises people to seek refuge in air-conditioned public buildings.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Feds announce funding to tackle climate change in Inuit region of Atlantic Canada, Radio Canada International

Finland: As Finland’s temperatures rise, so does the threat of toxic algae, YLE News

Norway: Northern Barents Sea warming at alarming speed, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Record heatwave in the Arctic, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Italian water bombers assisting Sweden in fight against spreading wildfires, Radio Sweden

United States: Rapid Arctic warming is increasing the frequency of blizzards in U.S. Northeast: study, Radio Canada International

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