Heat and humidity are common for most areas of the country during Summer months. Statistically there were 109 heat related worker deaths recorded from 2008-2013 for workers covered by Federal OSHA and State OSHA. The Summer of 2014 could prove to be even more dangerous for workers because the Spring has been cooler than normal. Jumping from a cool Spring to the heat and humidity of Summer without much of an acclimation period, is always a dangerous combination!
Here are some tips for business owners and company managers to reduce heat related illness possibilities for their workers:
- Go easy the first few hot and humid days that arrive. Obviously the work has to be done but it’s not worth risking a life for. Schedule longer breaks, shorter hours, and look at scheduling work hours on a project that avoids the mid-day heat.
- Stress drinking water to your employees every 15 minutes and have water readily available. Remind your workers that heat related illness symptoms start before a person gets thirsty.
- For the hottest days, schedule longer breaks and rest in the shade. If the area that you are working in does not have shade, erect temporary shade such as a tarp.
- Encourage your workers to wear a hat and light colored clothing during the heat of Summer.
- Learn the symptoms of heat related stress. Some examples of first symptoms are commonly cramps and rashes. The next level of symptoms is failing to sweat and clammy hands. This can lead to the next level of heat stroke – if this happens, immediate medical attention must be initiated.
- Inspect your work crew on a regular basis throughout the day – this point cannot be stressed enough!
On OSHA’s site, they remind everyone of three simple words, “Water, Rest, and Shade!” Plan for the hot days and be prepared.