With warmer weather approaching, it’s crucial to know how to respond to heat exhaustion and heat stroke(the two most dangerous heat-related illnesses according to OSHA). Employees that work outdoors, wear bulky protective equipment, or perform heavy tasks are at risk for heat-related illnesses.
Heat illnesses can be deadly, and it’s the employer’s duty to protect workers from excessive heat. Under OSHA law, employers are held responsible for providing workplaces free of known safety hazards, this includes protecting workers from extreme heat. An employer should establish a heat illness prevention plan to ensure that workers are not subjected to dangerous conditions. If your company needs assistance with creating a safety program, Sheffield offers program development.
Here’s a few tips for protecting workers from excessive heat:
-Provide workers with cold water, rest, and shade.
-Allow new or returning workers to gradually increase workloads and take more frequent breaks as they build a tolerance for working in hot conditions.
-Plan for emergencies and train workers on prevention or what to do if someone is experiencing a heat-related illness.
-Monitor workers for signs of illness.
Heat stroke occurs when the body can’t regulate its core temperature and stops sweating, leaving the body unable to get rid of excess heat. Heat stroke should be considered a medical emergency, as it can lead to death. Signs of heat stroke include: fainting, confusion, seizures, hot and dry skin, and a high body temperature. If you suspect heat stroke, call 911 immediately. While waiting for emergency responders, OSHA recommends the following steps:
-Ensure the worker is moved to a cool and shaded area.
-Give the worker water as soon as possible.
-Loosen clothing and remove outer clothing.
-Fan air directly on the worker and place cold packs in armpits.
-Place cool water, ice packs, cool compresses, or ice on the worker.
-Stay with the worker until help arrives.
Sources: OSHA.gov, Safety + Health Magazine