Are you excited to wear t-shirts and shorts to work? Many are! We are entering a season of warmth where many workers look forward to weather they can work outside in and enjoy. However, it is also the time of year where temperatures soar, humidity rises and heat can become overbearing, which can adversely affect safety in the workplace. Many of the problems that come as a direct result of the heat can be life-threatening. Extreme heat can cause excessive dehydration, fatigue and heat stroke. As you gear up for the warm weather, take into consideration how the heat can play an influential role in outdoor operations. Here are three ways the heat can affect safety in the workplace and how you can intervene and mitigate the effects.
1) Risk For Heat Stroke and Dehydration – According to CDC, heat stress can be a major issue for not only outdoor workers, but indoor workers as well. On hot days, dehydration and fatigue can lead to heat stroke or cardiac-related conditions. There are many steps workers can take to avoid such an occurrence. First, it begins with wearing appropriate clothing for the season. Typically lighter articles of clothing that allow for wicking allow the body to cool quicker. In addition, it should be enforced that workers have at least eight glasses of water per day, twelve glasses if involved in vigorous physical activity. Supervisors should also encourage adherence to a regular break schedule, as failing to do so is another cause of trouble when employees work outdoors in the heat. Taking several 15 minute breaks over the course of a hot day can be a huge difference in preventing the onset of atrophy, malaise and any form of heat exhaustion.
2) Lowers Productivity – As a result of workers being susceptible to fatigue, productivity and efficiency suffers. This narrative reinforces the importance of keeping staff and personnel fresh. Well-rested, hydrated workers often produce greater results than when they are worked vigorously. With this being said, if employees can be rotated out of grueling assignments this may allow for productivity levels to remain constant while workers remain deployed appropriately.
3) Ultraviolet Radiation – Preventing absorption of the sun’s strong ultraviolet rays is a great way to reduce the risk of heat rash, mitigate sunburn and of course prevent heat fatigue. Many experts agree that it is advisable to wear appropriate sunblock on all areas of exposed skin if personnel and staff are due to labor outdoors for extended periods of time. In addition, there are some other considerations that must be recognized to maximize safety. The sun’s rays are strongest at around noon, but temperatures usually reach their high around 3PM. With this being established, it may be most conducive to schedule break times and lunch during these hours to avoid exposure to extreme heat and radiation. Prior to scheduling tasks, it is also advisable to consult the forecast for the UV and Heat Index to see how strong the sun’s rays are supposed to be for the day and how hot it is supposed to feel.