July 3, 2013

Heat Stress and Summer Hazards: Are Your Employees Prepared?

Heat StressAll around the country, this week has been a vivid reminder that summer is a dangerous time for heat-related injuries. Heat stress can affect any worker that is exposed to extreme heat or who works in a hot environment.

According to OSHA’s General Duty Clause: “Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.” On their Occupational Heat Exposure Standards page, OSHA points out that, “This includes heat-related hazards that are likely to cause death or serious bodily harm.”

For a more in-depth look at this safety hazard, OSHA created some outreach material on occupational heat exposure. The page covers:

  • Why is heat a hazard to workers?
  • Who could be affected by heat?
  • How do I know if it's too hot?
  • How can heat-related illness be prevented?
  • How can OSHA Help?

And on their Heat Exposure – Prevention page, employers can find a list of engineering controls to improve their facilities for heat mitigation as well as a list of best practices such as:

  • Taking steps that help workers become acclimatized (gradually build up exposure to heat), especially workers who are new to working in the heat or have been away from work for a week or more. Gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks during the first week of work.
  • Having adequate potable (safe for drinking) water close to the work area for their workers, who should drink small amounts frequently.
  • Rather than exposing workers to heat for extended periods of time, workers should, wherever possible, be permitted to distribute the workload evenly over the day and incorporate work/rest cycles.

They’ve even created a Heat Safety Tool smartphone app to help workers monitor the heat index at their worksite, indicating the risk level and generating reminders about simple protective measures they should follow throughout their shift.

For something to post on your facility walls for those workers who aren’t out in the field, check out the Fast Facts sheet from NIOSH called “Protecting Yourself from Heat Stress.

At the end of their prevention page, OSHA gives a big shout-out for proper training about the hazards of heat exposure and how to prevent them. They recommend that training topics should include:

  • Risk factors for heat-related illness
  • Different types of heat-related illness, including how to recognize common signs and symptoms
  • Heat-related illness prevention procedures
  • Importance of drinking small quantities of water often
  • Importance of acclimatization, how it is developed, and how your worksite procedures address it
  • Importance of immediately reporting signs or symptoms of heat-related illness to the supervisor
  • Procedures for responding to possible heat-related illness
  • Procedures to follow when contacting emergency medical services
  • Procedures to ensure that clear and precise directions to the worksite will be provided to emergency medical services

Here’s where new HSI brand family member Summit Training Source can help. We have courses in different delivery formats to get you the training you need:

Questions about Summit Training Source programs? Give us a call at 800.447.3177.

And please use precautions during our heat wave, whether you are out working or just enjoying a holiday picnic.

Summit Training Source  


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