Summer is finally here! Before heading off on vacation to the beach or campground, it’s important to prepare your outdoor workers for the transition to heat and humidity. Working even just a few hours in extremely hot temperatures can lead to dangerous illness and even death. There’s good news, though: heat-related emergencies can be prevented. Here are tips to help keep your workers safe during these hot summer months.
Facilitate Water Breaks
Breaks slow down a job, but in the summertime, water breaks should be non-negotiable. Workers need to consume at least 1 cup of water every 15-20 minutes in order to stay hydrated in the heat. They should also be encouraged to drink beverages with electrolytes after a prolonged period of outdoor work.
Provide Opportunities to Cool Down
Shaded and/or air-conditioned rest areas are important for people who are outdoors for more than one hour during the day. Employees should be empowered to step aside and use those cooling stations at regular intervals throughout the day. It is also important to provide protective equipment and clothing like air-cooled garments, hats, vests with ice packs and heat-reflective clothing.
Conduct Thorough Training
Employees need to be educated on the safety measures to protect themselves in extreme heat. Create a plan for water breaks and cooling breaks, and teach employees the signs of heat illness. Incorporate processes for reporting heat symptoms to supervisors and assign “buddies” to keep an eye on one another throughout the day.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, headache, cramps, excessive sweat, nausea, vomiting, weakness and an elevated heart rate. Heat stroke symptoms include hot, red skin, fainting, confusion and convulsions. Any time an employee faints from heat, it should be considered an emergency and the employee should either be taken to the hospital immediately, or a coworker should call 911.
New Employees Are Especially Vulnerable
It is important to include heat acclimation and safety training for new and temporary employees. Most heat-related health issues occur during the first three days on the job, and nearly one-third occur on the first day. If someone has not worked outdoors in at least a week, they need time to adjust.
More resources are available on OSHA’s website. Their motto, “Water. Rest. Shade.” can prevent heat illness and save lives.
If You’re Looking to Add Talented Workers this Summer, Contact The Reserves Network!