Though we're coming off a pretty mild winter in the Mid-Atlantic Region, there is much excitement and anticipation about the warmer months ahead. For some workers, however, rising temperatures can be challenging. Depending on the type of work performed, and the equipment worn, heat can be the catalyst for serious injury.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has shared outstanding information over the years about exposure to heat. The most serious heat illness is heat stroke. Other heat illnesses, such as heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rash, can be dangerous as well. There are precautions you should take, any time temperatures are high and the job involves physical work.
Here are five ways to beat the heat and protect your employees.
1) Provide training about the hazards leading to heat stress and how to prevent them. Workers need to understand the risks associated with higher temps. They also need to know what to do if they, or a co-worker, experiences symptoms.
2) Keep workers hydrated. For some workers, this means at least one pint of hydration per hour. For others, not as much, but they should hydrate even if they don't feel thirsty.
3) Take breaks and get out of the sun. The sun and heat will take a toll on workers over the course of the day. It's important for them to take breaks and find a shady spot or go inside � preferably in an air conditioned room � to help the body recover from sun and heat exposure.
4) Encourage employees to wear appropriate clothing, which is loose fitting, breathable and light colored. Also supply accessories and equipment that can help keep employees cool. This can be things like cooling vests or other specialty clothing that keep body temperatures under control.
5) Apply sunscreen early and often.With increasing levels of melanoma cases and data that supports the dangers of sun exposure, protect your workers with sunscreen. Also, workers who are more susceptible to sunburn may not realize they are exposing their skin to sunburn until it is too late. Have your workers keep an eye out for reddening of skin or other symptoms of sunburn.
As the weather heats up, please know and understand the factors which could hurt your workers, delay production and negatively impact your business.
Risk Factors for Heat Illness
High temperature and humidity, direct sun exposure, no breeze or wind
Low liquid intake
Heavy physical labor
No recent exposure to hot workplaces
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
Headache, dizziness, or fainting
Weakness and wet skin
Irritability or confusion
Thirst, nausea, or vomiting
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
May be confused, unable to think clearly, pass out, collapse, or have seizures (fits)
May stop sweating
At Arbill, we care about you and your workers throughout the year. As the temperatures rise, now is the time to start training employees on the safety hazards of heat stress and implementing preventative measures for your workers who are exposed to extreme heat conditions. Through heat stress knowledge and tactics, you can help ensure the health and safety of your workers over the upcoming summer months.
For more information on how to reduce heat-related incidents, click here.