Forecasts for the Pacific Northwest Region are already soaring, with estimates giving above normal temperatures and humidity starting as early as late May. Exposure to heat can cause serious illness and in some cases, death. Luckily, there’s plenty you can do to protect your employees.
Any worker exposed to hot conditions is at risk for heat-related illness. Some, like those new to construction, temporary workers or those returning after a week or more off, are even more susceptible. Other factors can include illness, medications, personal fitness, diet, dehydration, having a bit too much fun the night before.
Work on acclimating those new/returning back into heated work environments:
- Limit intense activity the first few days
- Gradually increase workload
- Check in with them during work hours to ensure their safety
Only YOU can prevent heat stress
Training on heat-related illness should be provided to all employees and supervisors who will be working in high temperatures for extended periods of time. Topics to cover?
- How heat affects the body
- How to identify signs/symptoms of heat illness – and what should you do if you see them
- Have employees create a “Buddy System” to keep an eye on co-workers for symptoms.
- Print and pass out these OSHA Heat Stress quick cards
There are plenty of ways to stay up-to-date on the upcoming weather. OSHA has a Heat Safety Tool app for iPhone/Android, which pulls local temperatures and will tell you the risk levels and precautions you should take for your workers. FEMA has an app as well, which sends you high heat warnings for the days ahead.
Give ’em a break – and some water
Make sure there is an abundance of cool drinking water that’s easy to access on-site. Remind workers not to wait till they’re thirsty. Coconut water or sports drinks can help a bit, but energy drinks (especially caffeine) do more damage than good in the heat.
Ensure there are cool, shaded areas that employees have access to when they need to take a break.
In case of an emergency
Supervise – Call a supervisor for help, if unavailable call 911.
Shade – Move the worker to a cool, shaded area.
Water – If they can drink, offer water. If not, loosen clothes and apply to the body.
Wait – Monitor the worker until help arrives.
For training or questions regarding heat-related illness, contact The Integrated Group at 425-822-8500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.