Article by – Oliver Safety Committee
This is a critical moment to recognize the dangers of Heat Stress. According to Forbes Magazine, the Fourth of July was the hottest day on Earth in as many as 125,000 years, breaking a record set the day before. The return of the El Niño weather pattern collides with soaring temperatures at the start of summer, researchers say.
Temperatures in the Philadelphia area have been well over 90°F for most of July with the humidity matching.
Heat stress can result in heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat rashes. In addition, heat can also increase the risk of injuries in workers as it may result in sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, and dizziness. Burns may also occur as a result of accidental contact with hot surfaces or steam.
Millions of U.S. workers are exposed to heat in their workplaces. Although illness from exposure to heat is preventable, every year thousands become sick from occupational heat exposure and some cases are even fatal.
Oliver Fire Protect & Security advises taking a Safety Moment to read the highly important and relevant data below and discuss with your teams. Practicing these recommendations will help avoid injury and illness.
Recommendations For Preventing Heat Stress
- Limit time in the heat and/or increase recovery time spent in a cool area.
- Use tools intended to minimize manual strain.
- Use a buddy system where workers observe each other for signs of heat-related illnesses.
- Require workers to conduct self-monitoring and create a work group to make decisions on self-monitoring options and standard operating procedures.
- Provide adequate amounts of cool, potable water near the work area and encourage workers to drink often.
- Use a heat alert program whenever the weather service forecasts a heat wave.
- Institute a heat acclimatization plan and encourage increased physical fitness.
- Recognition of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and administration of first aid.
- Causes of heat-related illnesses and steps to reduce the risk. These include drinking enough water and monitoring the color and amount of urine output.
- Proper care and use of heat-protective clothing and equipment and the added heat load caused by exertion, clothing, and personal protective equipment.
- Effects of other factors (drugs, alcohol, obesity, etc.) on tolerance to occupational heat stress.
- The importance of immediately reporting any symptoms or signs of heat-related illness in themselves or in coworkers to the supervisor.
- Procedures for responding to symptoms of possible heat-related illness and for contacting emergency medical services.
- Monitoring weather reports.
- Responding to hot weather advisories.
- Monitoring and encouraging adequate fluid intake and rest breaks.
- Permit rest and water breaks when a worker feels heat discomfort.
- Modify work/rest periods to give the body a chance to get rid of excess heat.
Don’t learn about Safety by Accident. Heat-related injuries and illness can be prevented by prioritizing safety, staying vigilant, and protecting each other. The most important responsibility of any project leader is to ensure their team makes it home safely at the end of each shift.
For more information, visit The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).