With summer weather and hotter temperatures on the horizon, it’s time to brush up on planning for and preventing heat-related illnesses.
First off, it’s important to note that although heat-related illness is often caused by working outdoors in warm weather, other job-related risk factors do exist. Hazardous heat exposure can also occur indoors, working in bakeries, kitchens, metal foundries, manufacturing, warehouses, and fire services.
No matter the milieu, if your employees work in a heat environment, it’s imperative to be proactive. Here are a few tips ICC has compiled:
Tip #1: Create a plan to protect workers from developing heat-related illnesses. Ensure all employees know how to quickly identify any heat illness symptoms.
Symptoms can range from mild muscle pain and weakness to severe confusion, rapid heart rate, slurred speech, and seizures.
Tip #2: Ensure adequate supervision of employees, especially if new and/or seasonal, as well as the working conditions. OSHA-NIOSH has even developed an app to help with that. The OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool features a visual indicator of the current heat index and associated risk level, precautionary recommendations, and first aid information for heat-related illnesses.
Tip #3: Encourage employees to keep hydrated, work in shorter shifts while taking frequent breaks, and implement engineering and controls to reduce heat stress.
As easily as these tips can be implemented in the workplace, it’s important to remember heat illnesses can affect us all, even at family BBQs, while building a new deck, or enjoying a day at the beach. Remember to seek shade and stay hydrated to avoid heat stress.