Beware the Heat

Posted on May 15, 2022 in: Safety

Joe Whiteman, director of safety services The Voice Newsletter May 2022

Summer is approaching, be prepared for the heat!

As we enter the summer months some areas of the country are already experiencing elevated temperatures. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can both
be avoided through proper training and planning. Ensure that water, rest, and shade are readily on hand and know the symptoms of heat stress and heat stroke.

Heat Exhaustion Symptoms:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Heat rash
  • Excessive sweating
  • Cool, pale, clammy skin

Heat Stroke Symptoms (potentially fatal):

  • No sweat
  • Red, dry, or hot skin
  • Headache
  • Rapid pulse
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Body temperature of 102 degrees+

Training and understanding the symptoms of both heat stress and stroke are only part of the solution. As an employer you need to ensure your employees are properly trained on the effects of working in the heat, and that preventative measures, first aid, and medical response are taken into consideration. Workers must be empowered to take a break or drink water whenever needed, and to encourage others to do the same.

Best practices to mitigate the effects of heat illness:

  • Train employees on the effects and treatment of heat related illness.
  • Ensure adequate shade is available.
  • Encourage workers to wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.
  • Ensure that cool water is available to all employees, at least one quart per hour, per employee.
  • Encourage workers to take frequent breaks and drink small amounts of water regularly, rather than waiting until thirsty.
  • Encourage and empower workers to take a short break if they are feeling heat related discomfort or symptoms.
  • Plan for work schedules to allow for more frequent breaks.
  • Ensure adequate time for new employees to become properly acclimated.
  • Encourage workers to eat healthy and stay hydrated when off the job.
  • Encourage workers to avoid drinking alcohol during off hours, and avoid caffeinated drinks and heavy meals during the workday.
  • Train workers on the emergency action plan should a worker need medical treatment.
  • Ensure there are individuals on the jobsite trained in CPR and First-Aid.
  • Practice emergency drills.
  • In the event a worker exhibits symptoms of heat stroke, understand that this is a potentially fatal situation. Call 911 and seek medical attention immediately. As you are waiting for emergency responders, move the worker to a shaded area, loosen or remove heavy clothing, fan or mist the worker, and provide cool drinking water.

There are many more best practices you as an employer can implement into your heat illness control and emergency response plans. Those listed
above are a good starting point and a reminder to review your current program and best practices. We will discuss heat illness prevention at this month’s Safety Roundtable, Wednesday, May 27th at 2pm CDT. To participate, email I hope to see you on the call. Until then, stay cool.

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