Summer months are good for business, but warmer temperatures bring their own category of jobsite hazards. Learn more about the signs and symptoms of heat stress, and keep you and your employees safe.
What is Heat Stress?
Heat Stress is the health hazard that occurs with prolonged heat exposure due to warm or hot environments of temperatures.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), exposure to extreme heat can lead to occupational illnesses and injuries. Heat stress can lead to heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat rashes.
And on the jobsite, heat stress can increase the chances of workplace injuries by creating sweaty palms, foggy safety glasses and dizziness.
How Employers Can Help with Heat Stress and Heat Illness
Employers should create a written plan to prevent heat-related illness. Important elements to consider when creating the heat plan are:
- Who will provide oversight daily?
- How will new workers gradually develop heat tolerance?
- Temporary workers may be more susceptible to heat and require closer supervision.
- Workers returning from extended leave (typically defined as more than two weeks) may also be at increased risk.
- How will the employer ensure that first aid is adequate and the protocol for summoning medical assistance in situations beyond first-aid is effective?
- What engineering controls and work practices will be used to reduce heat stress?
- How will heat stress be measured?
- How to respond when the National Weather Service issues a heat advisory or heat warning?
- How will we determine if the total heat stress is hazardous?
- What training will be provided to workers and supervisors?
For more information on creating a Heating Illness Prevention Plan, click here.
How To Keep You and Your Workers Safe
There are resources for mitigating and avoiding risks of occupational heat exposure. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Modify work schedules and arrange frequent rest periods with water breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas.
- Gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks for workers new to the heat or away from work to adapt to working in the heat (acclimatization).
- Designate a responsible person to monitor conditions and protect workers at risk of heat stress.
- Consider protective clothing that provides cooling.
Learn more about risk factors, symptoms of heat exhaustion, and measures to take if a worker becomes ill from the heat here.