30

Protect Your Outdoor Employees This Summer

Summer temperatures have just about arrived, so prepare now to address the potential dangers to your employees who work outdoors. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that, on average, 675 people die annually from complications of extreme heat. Many more will suffer less serious episodes of heat illness which can result in reduction in productivity, as well as the obvious health risks for employees. The good news is you can reduce your risk of these events from happening on your watch.

Prevention Steps
Here’s how to prevent heat-related illnesses:
  • Workers should drink cold water every 15 minutes or so, with a total of two to four cups per hour. Consider providing sports drinks as well.
  • Workers should avoid caffeine, alcohol, and large amounts of sugar.
  • Limit outdoor work to mornings and evenings, if possible.
  • Workers should wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
  • Provide a shaded area for rest breaks.
  • Your supervisors should monitor workers three or four times per hour. Use the buddy system to allow workers to watch out for each other.
  • When possible, schedule repair jobs for cooler months.
  • Acclimate workers to the heat by exposing them for progressively longer periods.
  • Use extra workers for physically demanding outdoor jobs.
  • Provide heat stress training in the spring.

For more information, review this helpful guide from our risk management partner, Zurich.

Types of Heat-Related Illnesses, Symptoms, and How to Respond

Heat Stroke is a life-threatening condition; call 911 immediately. During a heat stroke, the body’s temperature regulating system fails and body temperature rises to 104 degrees or more. Symptoms include confusion, loss of consciousness, possibly seizures, and the worker may even stop sweating. After calling 911, move them to a cooler area and place cold, wet clothes or ice all over the body.

Heat exhaustion is the next most serious condition and symptoms include headaches, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, confusion, thirst, heavy sweating, and a body temperature above 100 degrees. Remove the worker from the hot area and give them water to drink. Apply cool compresses on their head, neck, and shoulders, and take them to a medical clinic for evaluation.

Heat cramps are muscle pains caused by physical labor in a hot environment. Give them water, rest, and watch to make sure the condition doesn’t worsen.

Heat rash is the most common form of heat illness. This is a cluster of pimples or blisters on the neck, chest or elbows, and is caused by sweating. A cooler, less humid environment should help.

Risk Management Training
Age, obesity, poor conditioning, inadequate rest, and medications (such as blood pressure or antihistamines) can all increase the risk of heat illness for your employees.

We have training programs to help you and your workers assess your risk and develop a plan to avoid these costly, and sometimes tragic, conditions.
Call us now before the heat is on!
Posted in: Hot Topics
Actions:
Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Digg Delicious StumbleUpon Email