Yesterday marked the first day of summer – yes! Doesn’t it seem like yesterday we were just digging out from Winter Storm Jonas 2016? Nah, let’s put those frigid thoughts behind us and focus on the warm months ahead.
Of course summer brings with it lots of fun outdoor activities. But for folks who work outside, the summer heat can be a real danger. Work-related heat stress is no joke, and it’s important for employers and employees to take precautions and prevent dangerous heat-related situations from happening.
Work-related heat stress is no joke, and it’s important for employers and employees to take precautions and prevent dangerous heat-related situations from happening.
Organizations like OSHA and NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, offer many helpful resources that highlight the do’s and don’ts when it comes to heat stress prevention. We’ll outline some of these resources and their key takeaways below.
Heat Stress Prevention Tips
Here are some of the top heat stress prevention tips from NIOSH:
- Employers can help limit heat stress on workers by having certain work controls in place – like increased indoor air velocity or use of heat-absorbing shielding or barriers at outside worksites.
- Limit employee time in the heat, and when they’re not in the heat have the employee spend their downtime in a cool environment.
- Encourage employees to drink lots and lots of water.
- Increase the amount of workers assigned to one task.
- Establish a heat alert program. If there’s a heat wave in the forecast, workers should be notified through a heat alert program so they can prepare accordingly.
- Create a buddy system. Workers should have each other’s backs and observe one another for signs of heat stress
There are lots of great online resources for employers to take advantage of when it comes to heat stress prevention tips. Here are some great ones from NIOSH:
Infographic – Protect Your Workers from Heat Stress
Fast Facts – Protecting Yourself from Heat Stress
Poster – Prevent Heat Related Illness
Emergency Preparedness and Response in Extreme Heat
OSHA/NIOSH Info Sheet – Protecting Workers from Heat Illness
Preventing Heat-related Illness or Death of Outdoor Workers
Importance of Training
It’s also important for employers, especially those with employees who work in hot indoor or outdoor environments, to conduct training that makes workers fully aware of the dangers of heat stress and how to prevent those dangers from happening. NIOSH recommends that employer training include information about heat stress, risk factors, signs and symptoms, and first aid. Precautions for working in hot areas should also be explained (hydration, rest and acclimatization) and supervisors should be trained on monitoring and responding to weather reports and heat advisories.
Be safe out there this summer!