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Better Than a Cure: Prevention of Workplace Heat Illness

Better-Than-a-Cure-Prevention-of-Workplace-Heat-Illness

Heat illness affects workers in many different fields, all of which OSHA monitors and provides guidance for in the OSHA Heat Safety Fact Sheet. Unfortunately, heat safety isn’t practiced as consistently as it should be, leading to medical complications and even death. One such case, which included a fatality, recently resulted in a fine of over $22,000.

Southeastern Subcontractors Inc. failed to protect a worker from heat injury and also failed to report the employee’s death to OSHA within 8 hours after the accident.[1] This is a case with a sad ending and many workers encounter dangers from the heat during their work day. The best practice is to be proactive and implement a heat safety prevention plan, rather than trying to deal with the problem once a heat-related incident occurred.

Screen Workers at 85°F Says OSHA

One key preventative measure to protect workers from heat illness is to screen workers for heat stress when the heat index hits 85°F. OSHA currently recommends this lower temperature rather than the older guideline of 91°F. This decrease in temperature is based on an extensive study of 25 workplace heat-related illnesses, 14 of which were fatal.[2]

Acclimate Workers to Heat

Employ an acclimatization program if high heat is a given in the workplace. Slowly acclimatized to heat, workers are able to gradually get used to higher temperatures so that it’s not such a shock to bodily systems. This type of program would be good to document in a company’s heat safety plan. Furthermore, by collecting data from an acclimatization program, supervisors can gauge its effectiveness to see how much better workers fared through progressive acclimatization.

First Aid Training: Make it a Priority

To recognize and treat the symptoms of heat illness, managers or supervisors leading work sites should have specialized training. An early response is key to mitigating the situation and getting the individual out of harm’s way. Find out how to spot heat injury symptoms here.

Come Hydrated, Stay Hydrated

Proper hydration must be practiced continually throughout the day, drinking either water or a sports drink about every 45 minutes. And remember, hydration begins before workers ever arrive. Remind them to drink plenty of fluid all morning, not just when they arrive on site.

Create Cools Zones

Implement regular rest breaks during high heat situations for workers in a cool, shady spot. Whether inside or out, make this zone even cooler with a portable cooling system from Breezer Mobile Cooling.

Lightweight and easy to move, the Power Breezer and O2 cooling solutions don’t require a water source. Simply fill up the tank and cool any environment effortlessly for several days. An ideal way to stay cool at work, a quiet evaporative cooling fan from Breezer Mobile Cooling can significantly cool the area in and around any work zone.

To learn more about how our mobile cooling systems can serve your work sites, contact us today for a complimentary heat risk mitigation assessment.

[1] https://www.wokv.com/news/local/middleburg-based-roofing-company-faces-000-osha-penalties-after-heat-related-death-worker/8aS6f5DDEnKe9G3UAbUQVI/

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6726a1.htm?s_cid=mm6726a1_e#contribAf

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