Summer is here and heat stress/illness is a major concern. Construction workers, farmers, landscapers, oil and gas workers and transportation workers are more susceptible to heat illness. Additionally, indoor workers in manufacturing facilities may also be prone to heat illness as the weather warms up. Regulators are warning employers of the risks of working in high-heat conditions. In fact, employers in California are expected to see stricter enforcement of Cal/OSHA heat illness standards. But that doesn’t mean that the rest of the states should dismiss heat illness prevention.
According to OSHA, 2,630 workers suffered from heat illness and 18 died from heat stroke and related causes on the job in 2014.
- Drink water every 15 minutes. It is recommended to drink a quart of water per hour spent outside.
- Take a break in the shade to cool off. Tents or covered areas should be available to workers, especially as temperatures reach 80 degrees.
- Wear appropriate clothing. A hat and light-colored clothing works best when working outside. Dark-colored clothing will absorb sunlight which keeps the person warmer.
- Train workers to recognize the signs of heat illness and what to do. Heat exhaustion symptoms include dizziness, headache, weakness, cramps, nausea, and fast heart beat. Heat illness symptoms include red, hot dry skin, confusion, fainting, convulsions and high internal temperature.
- Be aware of co-workers. Workers should keep a watch on each other, especially new workers assigned to outside activities.
- Allow workers to adapt to their work environment. Offer lighter work, frequent breaks and shorter shifts. Then slowly increase their work tasks and shift hours.
SRP Safety Trainers recommend that employers revise their Heat Illness Prevention Plan on annual basis and require that employees go through annual refresher training late spring or early summer. Site supervisors and managers should remind employees about the risks of heat illness at toolbox meetings or at the beginning of each shift.
Heat illness is preventable. Call SRP at (318) 222-2364 with any questions or concerns. Our safety trainers are ready to assist you and your employees.