Concerns: Heat in the Schools —
With the warm temperatures in Windsor, Essex County and other parts of the province, many teachers and education workers and their students are working and learning in stifling conditions. There are no temperature limits for schools or other educational institutions defined in either the Education Act, the Employment Standards Act or the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
It is not uncommon for teachers, education workers and their students to receive correspondence warning of “extreme heat” and that outline the symptoms of heat exhaustion. These symptoms can include: fatigue, nausea, headache, excessive thirst, muscle aches and cramps, weakness, confusion or anxiety, drenching sweats (often accompanied by cold, clammy skin or a sensation of prickly skin), slowed or weakened heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, agitation, dehydration, fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea or fainting.
Hot temperatures in the schools is a very solvable problem. Buildings could be retrofitted with air conditioners so that teachers, education workers and their students have proper conditions for working and learning. Whether older schools should be kept open or not is not the main issue. The main issue is what conditions in the schools are required to affirm the rights of those who use them.
Teachers and education workers are have an interest in resolving these problems because they affect them directly on a daily basis during the area’s hot spring or fall months. It is not a matter of describing how much funding there is or is not, or shaming this or that government for inaction; teachers and education workers have the right to proper and safe working conditions and their students have the right to proper and safe learning conditions.
1. In Part 5 of the Occupational Heath and Safety Act (Right To Refuse or to Stop Work Where Health or Safety in Danger), the following general guidelines are given:
Refusal to work
(3) A worker may refuse to work or do particular work where he or she has reason to believe that,
(b) the physical condition of the workplace or the part thereof in which he or she works or is to work is likely to endanger himself or herself;