Heat Stress

Follow These Hot Tips to Protect Your Workers from Heat Stress This Summer

Heat Stress, tips to protect your workers from heat stress

When you can't hide from the heat, know how to overcome it!

Anyone working outside during the summer months could easily fall victim to heat stress. All workers in the construction, oil and gas, asbestos removal, and landscaping fields have no way to avoid exposure to dangerously high temperatures during the summer months. 

When you can’t hide from the heat, knowing how to protect yourself from heat-related injuries is crucial. Extreme heat could increase the temperature of your body at a rapid rate, making it hard for you to cool down. When you can’t cool down quickly enough, you become susceptible to heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat rashes.

Of all heat stressors, heat stroke is the most serious, according to the CDC. Heat stroke occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature and the sweating mechanism fails, making the body incapable of cooling down. 

If you think this can’t happen to you, think again. According to OSHA, 3,000 workers suffered from heat illness and 18 died from heat stroke and related causes while on the job, in 2014 alone. 

Employers are responsible for putting an emergency plan in place and ensuring medical services are available - if needed. Workers must have adequate potable (safe for drinking) water close to the work area and should drink small amounts of water throughout the day. When working outside in the high temperatures, use preventative measures to help avoid heat exhaustion.

Man it’s HOT outside! How to know if it’s too hot
  • No controls are in place to reduce the impacts of equipment that radiates heat.
  • Protective clothing or gear is worn.
  • There is no air movement.
  • Work is strenuous.

So how do I keep workers cool when it’s too hot outside? 

Although it’s important to include all prevention steps in worksite training and plans, heat-related injuries can be prevented with things like:

  • Engineering controls - like air conditioning and ventilation.
  • Work practices, such as work/rest cycles – taking breaks and gradually increasing the workload is extremely important in building up tolerance to heat - gradually.
  •  Drinking water often – maintaining hydration is very important because when we sweat, we lose water and electrolytes. Plus – a hydrated person is less likely to experience heat illness.
  • Providing an opportunity for workers to build up a level of tolerance to working in the heat.
  • Wear a hat and clothing that is loose fitted and light in color. 

Always remember - Working in direct sunlight adds up to 15 degrees to the heat index. The heat index takes both air temperature and humidity into account to determine how hot it really feels outside. The higher the heat index, the hotter the weather will feel. According to The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the heat index is a better measure than air temperature alone for estimating the risk to workers from environmental heat sources.

Check the heat index before starting work and keep a heat index chart handy so employees can easily locate it during the summer months. 

The best shield against heat exhaustion is prevention. Know the symptoms of heat stress and stay properly hydrated. Download the free whitepaper on heat related illness and keep an eye on fellow workers during hot months.