It’s summer, and temperatures are hot. On some days, they may rise to peak levels. For office workers in air-conditioned places, the temperatures are likely not an issue. But for industrial workers, warehouse workers and people who work outside, heat might be an issue.
It might also be an issue for people working where ventilation and cooling is provided by fans rather than air-conditioning systems since fans tend to cool less.
When the heat index rises, heat isn’t just a comfort issue. Working in the heat can dehydrate the body and cause heat stroke, sun stroke and more. These are specific health conditions that can cause people to feel weak and disoriented and can even cause them to pass out. How can you keep your employees safe during summer heat waves?
Be aware of the heat index
Most weather-related TV spots and websites give the heat index as part of the weather. It’s a combination of the temperature, time of day, directness of sun and other factors.
Generally speaking, most workers will be safe from heat-related health conditions up to a temperature of 91 degrees Fahrenheit (depending on other conditions). Once the temperature rises above that, it can become progressively dangerous.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) calls temperatures above 103 degrees high risk.
Provide water and breaks
Be sure to provide adequate water supplies, and remind employees that they should drink water frequently (at least every four hours). Provide breaks frequently during hot weather. Space for breaks should be in cool or shaded areas.
Acclimatize new workers
The vast majority of heat-related health concerns are felt by workers who are on their first few days of the job. Especially on high heat days and when people are working outside, break new workers in slowly.
Train workers to know safety precautions and risks
Workers themselves need to be trained about safety precautions and risks. Safety precautions include dressing appropriately for the weather, using sunscreen and protective headwear (if appropriate), and hydrating.
Train them to recognize signs of heat stroke and sunstroke and other heat-related conditions, so that they can take precautions if anyone starts to exhibit signs.
Change work schedules if necessary
Safety in the summer sun varies depending on conditions and type of jobs. As it extremely hot, however, it is sometimes a good idea to modify work schedules to maintain the safety of your workforce.
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