Safety Services Company
September 3rd 2019
It was recently reported in the news that based on global temperatures, July 2019 was the hottest month on record, with temperatures exceeding the previous record set in July 2016. This means that for workers in industries such as construction, food and beverage and other jobs that require active work in hot or humid conditions, the risk of illness from heat exposure is not only high, it has also increased in recent years. Daily temperatures, particularly during the July and August months, have continued to break records in last ten years compared to historically recorded temperatures.
To address these concerns, Heat Illness Prevention Plans are included in OSHA-approved State plans across the United States plans and companies must comply with these regulations.
Companies are required to do their part to protect workers from heat stress. But how can this be achieved and what should you know? What procedures, processes or personal protective equipment (PPE) can you put in place to ensure that your workers are kept safe? Heat stress in the workplace must be managed by taking precautionary steps and limiting employee exposure to exceedingly high working temperatures.
In order to prevent heat stress from occurring, it is important to understand the body’s response to heat. Where a person’s body is exposed to prolonged elevated temperatures, the body turns on its cooling mechanism in order to generate sweat and release heat externally. Blood rushes to the skin surface and profuse sweating ensues, but if the body is unable to reduce its core temperature quickly enough, this core temperature begins to rise. Workers should not be placed in situations where there core body temperature is allowed to rise above 38⁰ Celsius, the temperature above which persons begin to exhibit signs of heat illness.
All employers should understand the signs of each type of heat illness, and the appropriate level of first aid that should be provided. The table below, taken from the OSHA website on Heat-relates illness and First Aid, provides a snapshot of four types of heat illnesses and the first aid measures to be taken.
While waiting for help:
There are several methods that companies can employ to prevent worker heat stress.
Companies should also remind employees to:
Other options that companies can explore are new Personal Protective Equipment technologies such as cooling vests or Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPRs) where respirators are required. PAPRs provide constant airflow and are perfect for employees working in humid, hot environments. Cool air from PAPRs can also extend to the upper torso for increased comfort of workers.
Heat stress should not be taken lightly. At the Safety Services Company, we encourage companies to engage in monitoring environmental conditions to provide a safe and comfortable working environment for all of their employees.
To see how we can solve your company’s heat stress prevention needs, check out our products and services here or call us at (866) 329-5407 today.