Heat Safety Becoming a Concern As Summer Nears
Heat advisories have been issued across the country this week, which means dangerous conditions are in place for employees who work outside or in hot interior spaces. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s (OSHA) heat illness prevention program centers around three key words: water, rest, and shade.
According to the administration, most heat-related workplace deaths occur during the employee’s first week on the job. It takes time to build up a resistance to increased temperatures, so give new employees the chance to acclimate. Full acclimatization may take up to 14 days.
Every employee, no matter if they are used to the heat, needs to prioritize drinking enough water. OSHA recommends allowing employees to take a break every 15 minutes where they can drink water and rest in a cool or shaded environment.
Every year, dozens of workers die due to extreme heat, with most of these deaths occurring in the construction industry. Thousands more suffer from heat illness. This can include heat rash, cramps, exhaustion, and even heat stroke. Exposure to heat can also lead to accidents in the workplace due to sweaty hands, foggy safety glasses, dizziness, and burns from hot steam or surfaces.
Using Social Media to Keep Employees Safe
As part of its Heat Illness Prevention Campaign, OSHA is encouraging employers to share examples of how they are keeping their employees safe in the heat. Employers can share their stories, tips, and photos on Twitter with the hashtags: #WaterRestShade and #ProTips. Some of these stories will be shared on the website and in the bimonthly newsletter “Quick Takes.”
The Heat Illness Page also includes a link to the OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool App. This app is a great tip for planning outdoor work as it features a real-time heat index and hourly forecasts specific to location. The heat index is an important indicator of how hot it actually feels due to humidity and other factors. Take a look at the risk factor of working outside as temperatures rise:
|Heat Index||Risk Level||Protective Measures|
|Less than 91°F||Lower (Caution)||Basic heat safety and planning|
|91°F to 103°F||Moderate||Implement precautions and heighten awareness|
|103°F to 115°F||High||Additional precautions to protect workers|
|Greater than 115°F||Very High to Extreme||Triggers even more aggressive protective measures|
Working in the heat adds stress on to employees, so it’s important to make they aren’t suffering from any additional illnesses or issues. Worksite Medical provides convenient, on-site testing. Not only is this a great way to monitor the health of your employees — we can also help you stay in compliance.
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