We’re just a few days away from the official start of summer, which means much warmer temperatures and working conditions for many workers. So, it’s important to check in with your employees and raise awareness of heat-related illnesses for those who work outdoors or in other hot and humid conditions.
Who’s At Risk
The workers who most at risk for heat-related injury those who work outside, but indoor workers can succumb to the heat as well. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) specifies that any employee who is working in hot or humid conditions, doing heavy or strenuous work, or wearing protective clothing or gear is at risk. Employees who are new to working in hot conditions are especially susceptible to the heat and should be allowed four to five days to acclimate.
Recognize the Signs
Ensuring your supervisors and employees know the symptoms of heat stress will help heat victims receive treatment quickly before their condition becomes more serious.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are five types of heat stress: heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat syncope, heat cramps and heat rash. The most serious of these is heat stroke because once the human body reaches this point it can no longer control its temperature. Heat stroke can result in permanent disability or death. The early signs can range from skin rash and muscle spasms to a headache and dizziness. However, the most critical symptoms to watch for are dry skin, hallucinations, chills, slurred speech, rapid breathing and a weak pulse.
Take Preventative Steps
As an employer, it’s vital that you train employees to take preventative measures to protect themselves. Access to water, rest, and shade are the key to preventing heat-related illnesses. OSHA also recommends that employees wear light-colored cotton clothing, apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and watch out for their co-workers. If symptoms of heat illness appear, they should report them right away to prevent serious complications.
During the summer, the lives of your employees and your business’ success are on the line. Being informed and empowering your employees with knowledge to beat the heat are the primary ways to keep everyone safe from the high temperatures.