Health / Safety / Risk Mgmt
Summer is coming and that means high heat and potentially hazardous working conditions. When temperatures climb, employees who work outdoors or in confined spaces where cooling or air circulation is limited are at risk for developing heat related illnesses. If you are unprepared, or if symptoms are left untreated, these conditions can quickly become fatal.
Train your employees and managers before summer starts
Before summer’s heat starts, make sure your employees are protected from heat stroke and other extreme temperature hazards, by following these guidelines:
- Provide shelter from the sun and allow employees working in hazardous temperature conditions to take regular cool-down breaks.
- Make sure water is readily available and allow employees to drink throughout the day. Limiting water intake to official break times could endanger your employees’ lives.
- Provide access to running water, ice packs or coolers of ice, so overheated workers can reduce their body temp quickly when needed.
Teach them the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses
Make sure all employees, especially supervisors and managers, are also aware of the symptoms and first aid procedures for each type of heat-related illness including heat syncope, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Of the three, heat stroke is the most dangerous, and can include:
- High body temperature
- A lack of sweating, although skin may be hot red or flushed and dry skin
- A rapid pulse
- Difficulty breathing
- Irrational or strange behavior, including hallucinations, disorientation. agitation or confusion
Left untreated, these symptoms can result in seizure, coma or even death
Keep first aid supplies on-hand at all job sites.
Even if workers carry their own water or other drinks, as an employer, you need to make sure emergency supplies are always handy. For heat related illnesses, this would include ample water or sports drinks, a shower or hose for emergency cool-downs, a shaded or air-conditioned area for recovery and a working telephone to summon 911.
OSHA requires employers to provide a safe and healthy work environment for all employees. Ignoring heat related risks could result in steep fines or penalties. Make sure summer’s heat doesn’t sideline your employees or melt down your bottom line.
Lindsay Shugerman is a writer, researcher and online development professional at G. Neil, one of the nation’s oldest and most respected suppliers of HR information and materials including labor law posters, attendance trackers, compliance products and employee motivational tools.
A graduate of the University of Miami and the University of Utah, Lindsay uses her degrees in English, Psychology, HR/Organizational Development and Training, and Political Science to help employers understand their obligations under state and federal labor laws and industry guidelines. A former newspaper feature writer, restaurant owner, and retail manager, she can now be found writing about human resource issues, employment law and management skills with a combination of academic expertise and real-world experience.
When she’s not writing, she’s researching social marketing trends and new developments in human resource management, participating in G. Neil’s product development or sharing the latest online connection tools with her colleagues.
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