Summer officially begins in one month, but temperatures are already starting to heat up. This is great for pool days but can make for very dangerous working conditions. Whether you’re an employer in charge of workers who will be out in the heat or one of those workers, knowing how to stay safe is essential.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the risk of heat-related illness rises as temperature and humidity levels increase. This can be especially troublesome if temperatures become unseasonably warm before the body has a chance to acclimate.
The temperature outside isn’t the only number that matters. It’s important to pay attention to the heat index — a measure of both temperature and humidity — as it’s a better indicator of the risk faced by working outdoors for a prolonged period of time.
5 Tips to Prepare for the Summer Heat
Be Aware of the Risks
It’s essential for both employers and workers to understand heat illness and the risk factors associated with it. OSHA encourages everyone to know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke so immediate action can be taken to assist anyone suffering from these illnesses.
Training must also be provided to help employees prevent heat illness, because it can literally save lives. When people are equipped with the proper tools and techniques to protect themselves, they have a much better chance of staying safe and healthy in the summer heat.
Drink Plenty of Water
Hydration is a huge factor in preventing heat illness. OSHA recommends that each worker drink at least one pint of cool water per hour — taking a few sips at least once every 15 minutes. Since water can easily become warm when sitting outside, it’s best to store it in an insulated thermos and/or in a shady spot.
Adjust Work Schedules As Needed
Many summer days are hot, but some are absolute scorchers. Employers should keep a close watch on the temperature forecast to make sure workers aren’t subject to conditions too hot to handle. On especially warm days, OSHA recommends modifying work schedules. This might involve an earlier start time or a shorter shift, because you can never be too cautious when employees’ health is on the line.
Give New Workers Time to Acclimate
Starting a job during the summer can be hard on the body. OSHA advises gradually increasing workloads and giving new employees extra breaks to help them adjust. Use the same approach for seasoned team members who haven’t worked in the heat for awhile.
Make Breaks Mandatory
Some workers don’t like to take breaks, because they’re laser-focused on the job. However, pushing it too hard in the heat can cause major health issues, so employers must require everyone to take a few minutes to relax and hydrate at regular intervals.
At MAC Incorporated, worker safety is our top priority. Visit our blog regularly find the latest updates from OSHA and helpful tips to promote safety on the job. If you’re an employer or a job seeker who shares these values, contact us today to discuss a partnership!