There are many factors that increase a worker's chance of suffering from the effects of a heat-related illness. Make sure everyone on the team understands the best ways to prevent heat stress and allows themselves the opportunity to drink water and take breaks in the shade when needed.
Heat is a serious hazard to workers in many industries. Not only when workers are outdoors but also during indoor activity the body can build up heat and struggle to get rid of it.
According to the CDC, Extreme Heat causes more deaths every year than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, earthquakes and floods combined!
Workers need to be aware of their specific limitations and remember that sometimes their body may not cool off fast enough. Factors that can increase the chance of heat stress include:
- High temperature and humidity
- Not drinking enough water
- Direct exposure (with no shade) or extreme heat
- No breeze or wind
- Physical activity without breaks
- Use of bulky protective clothing and equipment
OSHA Standard 1926.21(b)(2) The employer shall instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to his work environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury.
Water. Rest. Shade. California's State OSHA program has created a great way to remember three important ways to prevent heat stress.
- Water - workers need to start drinking water before arriving at the job site. This is a great way to get the body hydrated and ready for hard work.
- Keep drinking water! Start the day out hydrated and then continue to fuel your body with water.
- If the temperature is high and the humidity is high, then OSHA recommends about four cups of water per hour.
- Rest - during periods of high heat and high humidity, short breaks in the shade are a great way to let the body release some of that extra heat.
- Wear loose, light clothing, and avoid direct sunlight when possible.