Work doesn’t stop just because it’s summer, but that doesn’t mean that supervisors can forget about the heat and have their workers forge ahead full steam as though it’s November.
Follow these precautions to help keep the heat off your employees
1. Let the water flow: People often wait until they are thirsty to drink water but if you are doing physically demanding work and become dehydrated, you can’t catch up and are at risk for potentially fatal heat illness. Employees need to be encouraged to drink water continuously on hot days and you must provide it.
2. Let your employees become accustomed to working in hot conditions. They cannot go from working in comfortable temperatures to working full-tilt in a heat wave. Allow them frequent rest breaks in the shade and save extra-demanding physical jobs for cooler parts of the day.
3. Educate yourself and your workers about the various forms of heat illness. It can start with weakness, headache, muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea, confusion/irritability and dehydration. The person must be taken out of the heat to a cool, shaded area and given plenty of water and allowed to rest. If the worker does not improve dramatically within half an hour, a doctor should be consulted. If someone continues to work with these symptoms, the body’s internal temperature can rise to life-threatening levels and the person may die of heat stroke.
4. Encourage workers to wear hats and to dress in light-colored, lightweight, loose clothing. They should be using sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 and reapplying it if they are sweating it off. Workers who are overweight or have medical conditions should ask their doctors about additional precautions to take while working in hot conditions, whether indoors or outdoors.
5. Ensure that indoor areas are kept well ventilated and that fans or air conditioners are operating.