May 29, 2020 National Heat Awareness Day
The summer months are perfect for fun activities like fishing, gardening, and swimming.
For those who work in these hot months or in highly humid conditions, the temperatures of the season bring on the risks of heat-related illness and stress.
There are different types of heat-related illnesses, including heat rash, cramps, exhaustion, and stroke. The risk increases if you’re doing rigorous work tasks or wearing heavy, bulky clothing. Heat stroke is the most dangerous of all heat-related illnesses, and requires immediate medical attention. Left untreated, it could lead to a person’s death.
Contributing occupational factors to heat illness are low fluid consumption, direct sun exposure without shade, limited air movement, physical exertion, and the use of bulky protective clothing and equipment.
Stay Alert of the Temperatures and Humidity Level
Heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable. Whether your workplace is indoors or out, there are basic steps to take to protect yourself and your crew:
- Alert workers to the temperatures and heat index for the day, and inform them of the precautions that are in place to prevent heat-related illness.
- Regularly monitor the weather forecast and plan ahead for high temperatures.
- Provide adequate amounts of cool drinking water close to the work site.
- Ensure suitable medical services are available.
- Acclimatize new and returning workers who will performing strenuous jobs. Those not used to the job may be at higher risk for heat-related illnesses, even if the heat index is low.
- Take additional precautions for people wearing heavy or non-breathable clothing. These workers can experience heat-related illness in temperatures as low as 70ºF.
- Encourage outdoor workers to use sunscreen and wear hats, cooling apparel, and safety glasses with dark lenses.
In extreme conditions, additional precautions should be taken:
- Actively encourage workers to frequently drink small amounts of water, before they become thirsty.
- Provide your workers with electrolyte replacement drinks or tablets to fight off the effects of heat stress and help them maintain a normal temperature.
- Establish and enforce work/rest schedules to control exposure to extreme temperatures.
- Adjust work activities to help reduce the risk of heat exposure.
- Set up a buddy system, so workers can watch for signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses in each other.
- Direct supervisors to watch for signs of heat-related illnesses in crew members.