Ways To Avoid Heat Related Incidents
In the heart of summer, we all can feel the heat during the peak of day. Not all of us work outdoors but those who do must be aware of the risks and take steps to protect themselves from the ill effects of heat. As an employer, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the risks faced by workers who experience heat on a regular basis. Heat-based incidents are on the rise with record temperatures occurring every year.
The body temperature regulating system fails and body temperature rises to critical levels greater than 104F. The signs are confusion, loss of consciousness, and seizures.
Signs include headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, confusion, thirst, heavy sweating, and body temperature over 100.4F.
Signs include muscle pains usually caused by the loss of body salts during sweating.
Heat rash is caused by sweating and looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters that may appear on the neck, upper chest, groin, and under the breast and in the elbow creases.
Any of these conditions – heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash – can be caused by working in heat. What follows are some tips and best practices for staying safe in heated environments.
• Proper Training: Employers can help prevent heat illnesses by providing proper training. Teaching proper hydration, implementing a break policy, and refraining from conducting work in the peak of the day (10am-4pm) can help reduce heat-related incidents.
• Implement Hydration Scheduling: Before working in the heat, workers should consume plenty of water to prevent dehydration. While preforming duties in a heated environment, it is important to take water breaks every 45 minutes to ensure proper hydration. This process will promote sweating and will assist in decreasing the body temperature. Also, drinking rehydration drinks such as PowerAde/Gatorade can help replace sodium, sugar, and other nutrients.
• Create Lone Worker Policy: Creating a lone worker policy can help employers handle any heat illness or lone worker safety incidents with a planned and clear strategy. This will prevent missteps when handling lone worker incidents and standardize lone worker safety practices. For tips on implementing a lone work policy, check out our whitepaper.
• Take Breaks: When working in a heated environment, it is essential not to over-push the body's limits. Workers should be encouraged to be aware of the symptoms of heat sickness and to take 15 minute breaks when feeling over-heated.
• Shade, Shade, Shade: When working outside, sometimes the sun is unavoidable, but any duties that can be handled in the shade will reduce the risks workers face.
• Protective Gear: Wearable materials that will divert the sun should be utilized if possible. Workers should use sun screen, sun visors, and light breathable clothing to best defend again the sun’s rays.
Employers can help reduce heat-related incidents and encourage good safety practices. At SoloProtect, we believe in providing the best lone-worker solutions and can assist in mitigating the risks workers face in the heat. Learn more here.
OSHA (2016), OSHA Fact Sheet. Retrieved August 9,2017, from https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_Hurricane_Facts/heat_stress.pdf