Preparing for the Heat: Understanding Water. Rest. Shade.

For many employees, the temperature outdoors has no impact on the workday, because they’re sit at a desk inside an air-conditioned building. Things are a little different for your team, since most of their work takes place outside. Summer is on the horizon, so it’s time to start preparing for inevitable heat waves.

More than just uncomfortable, elevated temperatures can easily lead to heat illness. Alarmingly, 2,630 workers suffered from heat illness and 18 died from heat stroke and related causes in 2014, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA).

Thankfully, heat illness is entirely preventable, so learn how to keep your team safe this summer.

Know the Signs of Overheating

It’s important for everyone to understand and recognize the signs of heat exhaustion. Workers suffering from this illness are less alert, so they might not immediately realize what’s happening to their body. Swift intervention can prevent accidents and allow the person to get to safety before the sickness reaches an advanced stage.

Symptoms commonly associated with heat exhaustion include:

  • Headache, dizziness, or fainting
  • Weakness and wet skin
  • Irritability or confusion
  • Thirst, nausea, or vomiting

Do note that fainting, confusion, and vomiting are very serious signs of heat exhaustion. Anyone who exhibits these symptoms must stop work immediately.

Water. Rest. Shade

As the boss, you need to understand the stress that working in extreme heat places on the body. When temperatures soar, adjustments must be made to keep workers safe. Providing access to cool drinking water is essential, because this keeps the body hydrated. Workers should drink small increments of water frequently throughout the day, even if they’re not thirsty.

Periodic shade breaks must be given to allow workers to cool down. Those not used to being out in the heat should receive extra breaks until they’re fully acclimated to the weather. Anyone not feeling well should immediately proceed to a shaded area.

If you’re concerned about the amount of work that can be safely completed when temperatures are high, get creative with your schedule. If possible, adjust work hours to start and end earlier and have the most strenuous tasks completed first thing in the morning. This will allow everything to be accomplished without placing a strain on your employees.

Stop by the MAC Incorporated blog to keep up with the latest OSHA updates. Our niche-based staffing firm strives to help employers provide hazard-free worksites. We’re also here to connect you with talented engineering, maintenance, and operations management professionals who value safety as much as you do. Contact us today to discuss your needs!