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7 Ways Safety Leaders Beat the Heat

Posted on 5/11/2023 by Nick Waldron

344 people died of heat-related illness in the workplace from 2011—2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Environmental heat cases also accounted for about 2,700 cases involving days away from work per year during that time.1

Heat illness, heat stress, and related conditions are largely preventable—here are 7 ways safety leaders protect their workers from such illnesses.

7 Ways Safety Leaders Beat the Heat

7 Heat Illness Prevention Tips for Employers

Allow workers to acclimate to the heat. 

New employees and employees returning to work after a vacation or absence need time to condition their bodies to the warm or hot working environment. These employees are more susceptible to heat-related illness and exhaustion, statistics show.
 

Provide rest and shade. 

Human bodies need time to cool throughout the day. Employees should be encouraged to take breaks in shaded or air conditioned areas to help regulate their internal body temperature throughout the day. If there is no shade at the work location, the employer may engineer some shade by using a tent, tarp, or structure to block sunlight.
 

Modify work schedules, if needed.

Your workers may need a shorter, earlier workday with more frequent breaks. Work in an air-conditioned building when possible.
 

Provide workers with water.

OSHA has suggested that workers drink water every 15 minutes. It may be too late to hydrate once the body has used up all its water, so don’t wait until you’re thirsty. 
 

Train employees on symptoms and prevention, and plan for emergencies

Workers should be able to identify when they or their coworkers are exhibiting symptoms like flushed faces or light-headedness. Catching heat illness early can help it from becoming more serious.
 

Monitor workers for illness

Employers need to be proactive and watch their workers. Recognizing heat exhaustion early may be the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
 

Don't forget about indoor workers. 

Outdoor workers battle heat-related hazards when it is warm. Indoor workers fight the heat year-round in industrial kitchens, on manufacturing floors, and in warehouses. 

 

1. OSHA Memo, Inspection Guidance for Heat-related Hazards, September 2021. 

Protect Your Workers from Heat Hazards

The signs of heat-related illnesses may seem obvious. However, the symptoms can mimic numerous other, much less serious conditions. Don’t leave your team’s safety to chance! Lion’s Heat Illness Prevention – Supervisors course prepares supervisors to recognize and protect their teams from the effects of heat stress, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion, among other injuries and illness associated with heat. The course is available online, so you can learn at your own pace and earn useful resources you can save, print, and keep.

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