Effective Ways to Prevent Heat Stress in the Workplace!
Heat stress generally occurs when spending long periods of time outside/inside in excessive heat. Symptoms typically include physical exhaustion, cramping, rashes, and dehydration. In the most severe cases, heat stroke can result in confusion, irrational behavior, loss of consciousness and even death.
Risk Factors for Heat Illness
· High temperature and humidity, direct sun exposure, no breeze or wind
· Heavy physical labor
· Not drinking enough fluids (dehydration)
· Limited air movement
· Bulky or heavy personal protective equipment or clothing
· Radiant heat sources (vehicle and equipment engines, hot manufacturing processes, etc.)
· Physical conditioning and health conditions (e.g., diabetes, cardiovascular disease, influenza, etc.)
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
· A headache, dizziness, or fainting
· Weakness and wet skin
· Irritability or confusion
· Thirst, nausea, or vomiting
Heat can also increase the risk of injuries in workers as it may result in sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, and dizziness. Burns may also occur as a result of accidental contact with hot surfaces or steam.
To Prevent Heat Illness:
· Establish a complete heat illness prevention program.
· Provide training about the hazards leading to heat stress and how to prevent them.
· Provide a lot of cold water to workers close to the work area. At least one pint of water per hour is needed.
· Take breaks in more relaxed, shaded areas and rest regularly.
· Use fans or air conditioning to stay cool.
· Use cooling pads that can be inserted into hardhats or around the neck to keep the head and neck cool. Vented hardhats or neckbands soaked in cold water also can be used to minimize prolonged heat exposure and prevent the body from overheating.
· Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing such as cotton.
· To prevent dehydration, another hazard associated with exposure to heat, drink lots of water, about one cup every 15 minutes. Drink cold water and avoid diuretics such as coffee, tea, alcohol or soda, as these can deplete the body of fluid.
With outside temperatures and humidity soaring during the summer months, now is the time to make sure employees are taking the steps necessary to protect themselves from heat stress and heat-related illness. As an employer, please take time to download this informational graphic to generate awareness and prevention of serious heat illnesses. Also review other workplace safety topics here or if you’re looking to hire new employees but don’t know where to start, contact Award Staffing. We will be able to help you find the right employees for your unique business needs.
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