The Heat is On... Are You Ready?

With summer quickly approaching, it's time to think about the dangers that the season's high temperatures bring. Whether you work outdoors, or in hot indoor environments, it's important to protect yourself against the effects of the heat.

Prolonged and excessive exposure to heat can cause a range of heat-related illnesses, including heat rash, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion. Heat stroke is the most dangerous of all heat-related illnesses, and requires immediate medical attention. Left untreated, it could cause death.

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 colleagues:

  • 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 illnesses
  • Regularly monitor the weather forecast and plan ahead for high temperatures
  • Provide adequate amounts of cool drinking water close to the work site
  • Ensure adequate medical services are available
  • Acclimatize new and returning workers performing strenuous work. Workers not used to the work may be at high risk for heat-related illnesses, even if the heat index is low.
  • Take additional precautions for workers wearing heavy or non-breathable clothing. These workers can experience heat-related illness in temperatures as low as 70ºF.
  • Encourage outdoor workers to wear sunscreen and use additional protection (hats, cooling apparel, safety glasses with dark lenses, etc.)

As the temperatures rise, extra precautions should be taken:

  • Actively encourage workers to frequently drink small amounts of water, before they become thirsty
  • 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
  • Have supervisors watch for signs of heat-related illnesses in workers

Replacing electrolytes and minerals lost while sweating is also an essential part of fighting off the effects of heat stress. Providing your workers with electrolyte replacement drinks or tablets will help keep them hydrated, healthy, and safe.

Over exposure to high heat and humidity can be dangerous. With the proper precautions, heat-related illnesses can be prevented, and the health of your workers can be protected. If you have any questions about any of our heat stress products and how they can help you in your workplace, give our Technical Support Reps a call at 1-800-571-4646, or email techsupport@northernsafety.com. They'll be happy to help!

Sources: OSHA

Northern Safety Co., Inc.
PO Box 4250. Utica, NY 13504-4250
Phone: 1-800-571-4646
Fax: 1-800-635-1591

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