Six Items to Keep in Mind as Employers Prepare for a Hot Summer
July 16, 2020
This summer has been a hot one so far, and as workers return from quarantine they may be out of shape and out of practice when it comes to workplace safety procedures. On top of that, they are often having to wear a face mask while working.
A recent blog from OSHA Administrator Loren Sweatt offers six tips to protect employees working in the heat:
- Water. Rest. Shade. Employers should ensure that outside workers have access to cool water as well as beverages containing balanced electrolytes if they are sweating for hours at a time. Workers should also have shaded areas to rest and cool down periodically.
- New and temporary workers are most at risk. Workers build a tolerance to heat over time. 70% of heat-related fatalities occur during a worker’s first week on a job in warm or hot environments. The worker’s body will slowly acclimate to the heat; they should be closely supervised until fully acclimated.
- Indoor workers can suffer from heat illness too. Kitchens, warehouses, foundries, boiler rooms, etc. can all become dangerously hot environments. Be sure to provide cooling areas and hydration stations.
- Use engineering controls or modify work practices to protect employees. Use fans to increase ventilation, schedule heavier work loads during the cooler times of day, and rotate job functions among employees to minimize heat exposure.
- Familiarize everyone at your workplace with the signs and symptoms of heat illness and make sure everyone knows what to do in an emergency.
- Download the OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety App. This app helps to calculate the heat index at your worksite. It provides specific recommendations for planning work activities and preventing heat illness based on your specific risk level.