Summer is upon us and with it comes an increased risk of heat related injuries to workers who must work outdoors. Many of the injuries and fatalities that occur due to heat, happen in the first few days of working in the warm or hot temperatures. Heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps can result from the rising temperatures if precautions are not taken. Employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace free of health and safety hazards, including heat related hazards. OSHA has launched a National Emphasis Program (NEP) on outdoor and indoor heat hazards which will remain in effect for three years unless cancelled or extended.
There are several steps to take to help reduce or prevent heat illnesses at your workplace:
Heat acclimatization is the gradual building of tolerance to heat by increasing the intensity or duration of work performed in a hot setting. It is best to increase the workload in the rising temperatures over a period of
1-2 weeks. Managers should have a formal acclimatization plan in place for current employees and new hires.
Dehydration contributes to heat exhaustion. When working outside in the heat, drink 8 ounces of water for every 15-20 minutes of work and continue to hydrating after work shifts. Staying hydrated will help prevent medical emergencies.
*More Frequent Breaks
Encourage workers to take more frequent breaks in the heat so they can cool down and hydrate. Provide shaded or air-conditioned areas for workers to rest and recover.
*Emergency Preparations and Training
Ensure your workplace has a written emergency plan and the proper equipment to respond to heat related illnesses and injuries. Identify an individual at the jobsite to monitor conditions, control heat hazards, administer first aid and activate the emergency plan if needed. Train all workers to recognize the symptoms of heat related illnesses.
*Monitor Weather Conditions
Decisions about shortening work shifts, increasing breaks, and restricting overtime can be determined as weather conditions change. The steps above are some of the ways to help keep your jobsite safe as the temperatures rise this summer. Feel free to contact us at 919-417-2139 or if you need more information about reducing heat related hazards. We look forward to working with you to keep your workers and jobsite safe and productive this summer