Ugh! Summer. And this one has been pretty brutal so far with record breaking temperatures across the nation. That means you need to pay even closer attention to worker safety.
More accidents happen in hot environments according to the American Industrial Hygiene Association. Working in a hot environment can lower mental alertness and physical performance. And increased body temperature can promote irritability, anger and other emotional states which can cause workers to overlook safety or divert their attention from hazardous tasks. I know I’m not too pleasant to be around when it’s hot. 🙂
AIHA believes education is key to reducing heat related injuries. But learning the causes and solutions isn’t enough, it is also important to educate the workers themselves. A good heat-stress training program should include:
- Knowledge of heat stress hazards
- Awareness of first-aid procedures for heat stroke
- Employee responsibilities in avoiding heat stress
- Dangers of using drugs, including therapeutic ones, and alcohol in hot work environments
- Use of protective clothing and equipment
- Recognition of danger signs and symptoms
- Continuing education and advantage to workers of participating in a heat-stress training program
There are a lot of factors that affect your employees’ sensitivity to heat — age, weight, degree of physical fitness, degree of acclimatization to the heat, metabolism, use of alcohol or drugs, preexisting medical conditions, type of clothing worn and prior heat injury. Plus environmental factors also come into play and include radiant heat, air movement, conduction and relative humidity.
To determine the work-rest regimens that are safe for most people, the Occupational Safety and Health Agency recommends that you:
- Reduce physical work demands such as excessive lifting or digging
- Provide recovery areas such as air-conditioned enclosures
- Use early morning or night shifts
- Use intermittent rest periods with water breaks
- Use relief workers
- Use worker pacing
- Assign extra workers and limit worker occupancy, or the number of workers present, especially in confined or enclosed spaces
- Place ample amounts of liquid close to the work area and ensure workers get one cup of cool liquid every 20 minutes
Keep your employees safe. Learn more about protecting your workers from heat stress by visiting www.aiha.org.
What do you think? Do you have additional techniques for keeping workers safe? Leave me a comment.