As we enter the dog days of summer and see record-setting temperatures throughout much of the United States, heat related injuries are very much on our minds for outdoor workers.
Every year, thousands of workers get sick because of exposure to heat. When preventative measures are not taken, some workers have even died because of heat conditions. It’s important to note that all heat related illnesses and deaths can be prevented.
As published by the National Weather Service Office of Climate, Water and Weather Services at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/hazstats.shtml, the U.S. Natural Hazard Statistics provide statistical information on fatalities, injuries and damages caused by weather related hazards. These statistics are compiled by the Office of Services and the National Climatic Data Center from information contained in Storm Data, a report comprising data from NWS forecast offices in the 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands.
Here’s an informative chart on weather fatalities from contained in Storm Data, a report comprising data from NWS forecast offices in the 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands.
During hot weather, body temperatures can rise to dangerous levels. That’s why it is so important to drink lots of water and get out of the sun… or get into air conditioning, if possible. Beyond sweating, which is a natural way for the body to react to heat, if the body reacts to heat by breaking out in a rash or cramping, it can lead to heat exhaustion or even heat stroke.
To prevent this very serious condition, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that employers establish a complete heat illness prevention program. It is suggested that employers provide workers with water, rest and shade; gradually increase workloads with more frequent breaks for those that may be less tolerant of heat conditions. OSHA also recommends the development of a plan for emergencies and train workers about the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and their prevention; and monitor workers for signs of illness.
Here are some guidelines posted by OSHA:
Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty.
Rest in the shade to cool down.
Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.
Keep an eye on fellow workers.
"Easy does it" on your first days of work in the heat. You need to get used to it.
Workers exposed to heat can succumb to heat illness. Workers who are tasked with doing a heavy workload or wearing heavy protective clothing in the heat may be at the greatest risk for heat illnesses.
In addition to the guidelines posted by OSHA, Arbill believes in raising awareness with your employees about heat illnesses and how to prevent them. Understand the symptoms of heat illnesses and what to do if a worker starts feeling the effects.
It is worth noting that OSHA has again joined forces with other federal and state agencies and non-governmental organizations to help prevent heat illness. OSHA is continuing its partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service to include worker safety precautions in their Excessive Heat Watch, Warning, and Advisory Products.
With August temperatures on the rise, please take the time (if you haven’t already) to train employees on heat-related safety hazards and implementing preventative measures for your workers who are exposed to extreme heat conditions. We’re here to help you ensure the health and safety of your workers over the upcoming weeks.
For more information about making your workplace safer, contact the safety specialists at 800.523.5367 or visit www.arbill.com.
Stay cool... and have a safe day!