Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Employee safety training: Ten tips for working in the summer heat

Long summer days have arrived and they’re hotter than ever. Without the proper safety training, your employees may not know how to work safely in the summer heat. Overexposure to heat may cause serious illness and even death.

During the summer months, employees should be trained on how to prevent heat-related illness when temperatures and humidity are high. Workers should know how to identify and respond to the onset of heat stress.

When someone is not able to cool off by sweating, heat-induced illness may creep in and can be severe enough to cause death. Exposure to heat may cause heat cramps, rashes, heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Symptoms of dangerous heat exposure include confusion, irrational behavior, loss of consciousness, hot/dry skin, and abnormally high body temperature.

Here are ten quick tips for employees working in the summer heat:

  1. Drink plenty of cool water before working outdoors and drink small amounts of water frequently while you work.
  2. Reduce physical activity when you start to feel lightheaded or overheated.
  3. Take regular breaks in cool, shaded areas.
  4. Wear light-colored, lightweight, and loose-fitting clothing. Cotton is usually a safe bet.
  5. The sun is at its hottest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so try to reschedule outdoor jobs outside of that time frame.
  6. Wear sunscreen to protect against ultraviolet (UV) rays.
  7. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face and neck from the sun.
  8. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and too much sugar before and during work activities. Eat small meals before working outdoors.
  9. Try to keep work in shaded areas.
  10. Ask your doctor if any medications you’re taking can be dangerous in the sun.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) created two free fact sheets on how to protect employees from the dangers of working in hot outdoor environments: Protecting Workers from the Effects of Heat explains heat stress and how to prevent it; Working Outdoors in Warm Climates recommends ways to protect employees from overexposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) and offers information on insect-caused illnesses such as West Nile Virus and Lyme disease.

1 comment:

Jason said...

This is one of those overlooked areas by most employers. As the article discusses, heat and heat illness is an important topic and is also an OSHA required area of training. Here is a great video on the subject:

Funny heat stress training video
is a great choice for both employers and employees. It actually keeps your employees entertained...while they are being trained!! Whatever training option you use, the most important thing, is just to simply discuss it with your employees and make them aware of the hazard.

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