Keeping You and Your Crew Safe
As the summer months get into full swing, heat stress and other heat-related illness become a concern for workers across the country. Heat stress can lead to heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat rashes. Heat can even increase the risk of injuries in workers since it can lead to sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, or dizziness.
Workers at risk of heat stress may include:
- Outdoor Workers
- Workers in hot environments
- Bakery workers
- Construction workers
- Boiler room workers
Workers at an increased risk of heat stress also include those:
- Who are 65 years of age or older
- Are overweight
- Have heart disease or high blood pressure
- Take medications that may be affected by extreme heat
Controlling Heat Stress
Employers should work to reduce workplace heat stress by implementing engineering and work practice controls.
Engineering controls might include:
- Increasing air velocity
- Make use of reflective or heat-absorbing barriers
- Work to reduce steam leaks, wet floors, and humidity
Work Practice and other Administrative controls could include the following:
- Limit worker time in the heat and/or increase rest time spent in cool environments
- Use special tools that minimize manual strain
- Increase the number of workers per task
- Train supervisors and workers about the signs and symptoms of heat stress
- Provide adequate amounts of cool, potable water near the work area and encourage workers to drink frequently
- Institute a heat acclimatization plan and increase physical fitness
Heat Stress Training
Always train workers before the hot outdoor work begins. The training should be tailored to the specific worksite conditions. Employers should provide heat stress training for all workers and supervisors about the following:
- Recognition of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses
- Causes of heat-related illnesses and the procedures to minimize risk, like drinking enough water.
- Effects of non-occupational factors (drugs, alcohol, obesity, etc.) on tolerance to heat stress.
- The importance of acclimatization.
- The importance of immediately reporting any symptoms or signs of heat-related illness to supervisors.
- Procedures for responding to symptoms of possible heat-related illness and for contacting emergency medical services.
Additionally, supervisors should also be trained in the following:
- How to implement appropriate acclimatization.
- What procedures to follow when a worker exhibits symptoms consistent with heat-related illness, including emergency response procedures.
- How to monitor weather reports.
- How to monitor and encourage adequate fluid intake and rest breaks.