Hot Tips for Working in the Heat
It’s that time of year when you start thinking of more time outdoors. With the sunshine comes barbeques, camping, hiking, swimming and all of your favorite summer activities. In many of our workplaces, summer brings an increased chance of heat-related illnesses. Employees that work outside or in unventilated workspaces may be exposed to hazardous work conditions. Those conditions can easily result in dehydration. The more dehydrated a worker becomes, the more likely he or she is to suffer heat exhaustion or stroke.
How To Prepare Workers for Summer Heat
Adjusting to the heat can be a process that takes time. It is important to take the necessary steps to help all workers acclimate to the heat, particularly if the weather turns hot suddenly. Gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks during the first week of outdoor summer work. Closely supervise new employees for the first 14 days until they are fully acclimated to weather conditions.
- Provide easy access to a supply of safe drinking water and encourage workers to drink plenty of water throughout their shift.
- Avoid scheduling the heaviest work on the hottest days or at the hottest time of the day.
- Alternate work and rest periods in very hot weather, making sure workers have a cool, shady place to take their breaks.
- Monitor temperatures and worker responses on a regular basis.
- Train workers to recognize and treat the signs of heat-related illness.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeinated drinks or liquids containing large amounts of sugar.
Signs of Heat-Related Illness
Heat Stress is a common reaction to high temperatures, especially when accompanied by strenuous activity. The signs that someone may be experiencing Heat Stress include thirst, fatigue, dizziness and even difficulty seeing. When this is observed; move to a cool place, take a break and drink cool water.
Heat cramps are painful muscle spasms in arms, legs, or intestines that are caused by losing salt while sweating. To prevent this, encourage workers to be drinking plenty of water. When you observe the signs, have the worker cool down and drink water or juice. Also make sure to encourage them to maintain a diet that includes foods that will replace lost salt.
Heat exhaustion can make a person feel weak and possibly dizzy and/or nauseous. Other symptoms include chills, clammy skin, and profuse sweating. When this happens, move the worker to rest in a cool spot (preferably with feet slightly elevated) and drink plenty of fluids. If their condition doesn't soon improve, seek medical attention. Take it easy for a few days following an incident, especially if excessive heat continues to be a work factor, and reduce the pace of activity.
Lastly, Heatstroke is the most serious type of heat-related sickness and is, in fact, life threatening. Emergency medical attention is required. A victim of a heatstroke stops sweating, causing the body to overheat. Symptoms include hot and flushed skin, poor coordination, and confusion, possibly followed by loss of consciousness. Immediately, seek medical help. While waiting for the EMTs to arrive, move the person to a cool place, sponge with cold water, apply ice packs or cold drink cans, or immerse in cold water. Offer drinking water only if the person is conscious.
Why It Matters...
- The combination of heat, humidity, and hard work can be deadly.
- Every year thousands of workers end up in the emergency room suffering from heat-related illness—and some of them end up dying.
- Training workers to understand heat hazards and how to take the proper precautions to prevent heat-related illness will not only protect their health, it will keep them on the job where you need them, even on the hottest days.
It is important to keep your employees SAFE during the heat of the summer. At Insurance Planning, we believe that prevention is key when it comes to protecting your business assets and employees. Workers Compensation Insurance is designed to help you pay these benefits. Follow the above tips for keeping employees safe this summer and give us a call to make sure you're covered!