7 Tips for Beating the Heat
Each year, thousands of outdoor workers experience serious illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and dehydration. In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 4,190 workers suffered from heat illness and 40 died from heat stroke and other related causes on the job.
Who is Affected
Workers exposed to hot and humid conditions are at risk of heat illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky protective clothing and equipment. Outdoor workers or contractors working outside on your properties are at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions.
The body normally cools itself by sweating, but during hot weather and high humidity, sweating isn't enough. Body temperature can rise to dangerous levels if precautions are not taken. Heat illnesses range from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke is the most severe form as it can result in death and requires immediate medical attention.
How can the more common forms of heat illness be prevented among companies? Ensure your employees are trained to remember three simple words: water, rest, shade. Drink water often; take breaks; limit time in the sun or heat. Share these steps with workers and ensure they keep themeselves cool and safe:
- Wear loose, light-colored clothing and a hat
- Be conscious and prepared for warm conditions especially if performing strenuous tasks
- Take breaks in the shade when possible, and remove any protective gear you may be wearing
- Avoid overexertion during peak temperature hours
- Drink plenty of water even if you dont feel thirsty at least 8 ounces every 20 to 30 minutes
- Use sunscreen and re-apply throughout the day
- Stay away from drinks that contain caffeine (coffee, tea or soda) as they can dehydrate you
OSHA has created a mobile app that allows workers and their supervisors to calculate the heat index for their worksite and display a risk level for that particular area; it also issues reminders on heat-illness protection. Employers should include these prevention steps in worksite trainings and consistently remind workers of heat and sun safety each morning. Additionally, managers or worksite supervisors should review steps to take if you or someone else is feeling ill from the heat. Any other questions? Contact us.
- OSHA 10-Hour General Industry Training Seminar
- The Why and How in Building a Safe Culture
- 3 Ways to Fight Zzzzs in the Workplace
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