Keeping Workers Safe in the Summer Heat

Summer is a time of year almost all look forward to. Temperatures rise, humidity saturates and heat can bear down. Though many employees are enthusiastic in operating in these conditions, they can still be quite dangerous. There are many ways you can promote safety in the workplace while averting many of the issues that arise from the dog days of summer. Among the most notable are dehydration, heat stroke, and extreme fatigue. However, the good news is there are steps you can take to circumvent this. Here are three ways you can improve workplace safety and keep employees safe in the summertime heat:

Encourage Proper Clothing – The sad reality remains that dehydration and heat stroke can be easily avoided. Not only is heat stress a major issue for outdoor operations, but for indoor initiatives as well. In many material handling situations and warehouse scenarios, poor ventilation and inadequate cooling systems can cause indoor temperatures to actually rise higher than the outdoor environment. It is essential for operations managers to take this on board. On hot summer days, this can drive dehydration and fatigue to record levels, which can lead to heat stroke or cardiac complications. One of the easiest ways to avoid such incidents is to wear proper attire.  It is imperative to insure that employees are wearing appropriate clothing for the season. Typically lighter articles of clothing that allow for wicking allow the body to cool quicker. Wearing lighter colors is also a great way to reflect the sun’s rays, which can help keep core temperatures down.

Assure Proper Hydration and Adequate Rest – In addition to wearing appropriate garments, encourage workers to have at least eight glasses of water per day. While no one person can enforce this, providing the opportunity to do so is something that should be taken into account. Supervisors should implement a more adaptive and flexible break schedule. Implementing a simple series of several 15-minute breaks over the course of a hot day can make monumental impacts in reducing the onset of malaise and heat exhaustion.

Be Careful of Ultraviolet Radiation – According to ImpoMag, initiatives are being taken by both NIOSH and OSHA to protect workers in the summer heat. One of the biggest steps any organization can take is to prevent and mitigate the absorption of the sun’s strong extra-strong ultraviolet rays. Doing so is a proven way to reduce the risk of heat rash, sunburn, and fatigue. Therefore despite many veterans being battle-hardened by the rigors of heat, it is advisable to wear the appropriate sunblock on all areas of exposed skin if any employee is outside for extended periods of time. Furthermore, there are certain facts and precepts others can use to maximize their safety. First, it is worth considering that the sun’s rays are strongest at around noon, but temperatures usually reach their peak around 3 p.m. From a logistical perspective, it can be most conducive to schedule labor tasks outdoors before noon and after three.

About Tom Reddon

Tom has been involved in the forklift industry since 1986. He loves doing research, blogging, and speaking about forklifts. You can contact Tom on his Twitter or Google+ profiles.

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