Summer is here, and that can mean extreme working conditions for outdoor workers as the temperatures heat up all around the country. Each year, thousands of workers become ill from extreme heat or humid conditions, and dozens of cases result in death. Most heat-related illnesses can be prevented by reducing the risk for developing them. Here are some best practices for keeping cool on the job while working in the heat.
Best Practices for Protecting Workers from Heat Conditions
Both indoor and outdoor workers can be exposed to unsafe heat conditions. OSHA requires employers to provide workplaces free of known safety hazards, which extends to protection from extreme heat. Indoor workplaces with hot environments may include electrical utilities, bakeries, commercial kitchens, distribution warehouses, and many others. Outdoor workplaces with direct sun and hot or humid weather may include farms, oil and gas well operations, and construction or landscaping jobsites.
For indoor workers, employers should:
Implement engineering controls to make the work environment cooler and reduce exposure to heat
Use air conditioning and increase ventilation whenever possible
Redirect radiant heat by using reflective shields and insulate hot surfaces
For outdoor workers:
Employers should provide anyone working in the heat with water, rest, and shade
Keep water near the jobsite and have workers drink small amounts frequently
Schedule heavier work during cooler times of the day and rotate job functions to help minimize heat exposure whenever possible
Allow new workers to acclimate to their environment by gradually increasing workloads and taking more frequent breaks
For more tips, visit the OSHA website here.
Establish a Heat Prevention Program
Employers with workers exposed to high temperatures should have a heat-illness prevention program and an emergency plan in place. In addition, they should:
Train workers on heat prevention and how to respond to heat emergencies
Monitor workers for signs of heat illness and instruct workers to keep an eye out for each other
Review OSHA’s annual heat illness prevention campaign (Water. Rest. Shade.) for additional resources to protect workers on the jobsite
Heat Stress and Workplace Safety Training from HSI
Heat stroke is a serious side effect of heat stress, and attributes to at least 300 deaths per year. If your workers are exposed to heat in their work environment—and if they work outside it is likely that they will be—then the risk of heat stress illness and injury needs serious attention.
The Heat Stress course from Vivid Learning Systems trains workers how to:
Identify the hazards that can result from working in hot environments, including physical signs, symptoms, and treatments of heat stresses
Identify ways to protect yourself from heat stresses, including observing your employer’s heat stress protective strategies, along with other preparations and practices
To learn more about the course, and to see an infographic on 10 things everyone can do for safety during a heat wave, click here.
To help ensure that your workers have the training they need to stay safe and obtain their DOL-OSHA card, be sure to check out our OSHA 10- and 30-Hour training from Summit Training Source. Packages available for Construction or General Industry.
Need an Emergency Care Solution? Do you need to get the first response teams at your facilities up to date on their emergency care certification training? Turn to the experts at ASHI and MEDIC First Aid, and we’ll bring the training to you. Our National Training Solutions network is filled with experienced and qualified instructors who deliver dynamic and engaging CPR, AED, and first aid training to your employees, providing them with the skills and knowledge to respond to emergencies appropriately and with confidence.
Learn more about NTS by clicking the button below. Be sure to download our All About NTS eBook while you’re there!