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Heat Illness Prevention for Outdoor Workers

The hot summer months are here, and outdoor workers are especially prone to heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and heat stress, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC). The good news is that heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable. If your industry requires employees to work outdoors, now is a critical time to remind your team of heat risk exposures they might encounter.

Heat Illness Assessments

In some industries, working outdoors is unavoidable—even in intense temperatures. Employers are required by law to provide workplaces free of known safety hazards, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Conducting a heat illness assessment can help outdoor-based enterprises better understand and identify the hazards their employees encounter during the summer months. Workplace temperature, humidity, heat radiation, air flow, employee workload, apparel, and acclimatization could all be on a heat illness assessment checklist.

Employ the Buddy System

Most outdoor industries require workers to take breaks during their shifts but taking some extra time to recuperate from the heat could lessen the likelihood of someone being ill on the job. Consider implementing a buddy system among employees so that they may hold each other accountable for taking breaks. Workers can send text alerts to remind each other to take a break in the shade and drink plenty of water.

“Heat-related illness may be prevented or mitigated with plans in place by the employer to empower workers with training, support, change of working hours and flexibility for additional breaks when needed in the extreme heat.”  -Steven Pray, Senior Claims Consultant at INSURICA Southwest

Use Digital Tools to Beat the Heat

  • The OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool app can help you schedule outdoor work activities based on how hot it is throughout the day. Including real-time heat index and hourly forecasts for your exact region, as well as OSHA and NIOSH workplace safety and health recommendations. You can download the heat safety tool app for your phone now.
  • The CDC has released a podcast called, “Beat the Heat”. The podcast goes over the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses, as well as ways to avoid them.

“Employers discussing the dangers of extreme heat in pre-shift huddles, meetings, email and text message communication with staff could be a great reminder to employees to work safely in extreme heat.”  -Steven Pray, Senior Claims Consultant at INSURICA Southwest

Conclusion

Working in hot weather necessitates extra care to protect employees from heat-related illnesses and death. A proactive way to reducing heat exposure hazards is to create a heat assessment plan and have a talk with your team about high heat procedures and expectations.

Heat-related illness can still occur despite the best precautions. Call 911 right away if you suspect one of your employees is having a medical emergency.

INSURICA is available to assist you with your risk management needs. Please get in touch with us right away if you need help putting together a heat illness prevention policy, heat illness assessment, or posters for your workplace.

About the Author

Asia Johnson
Asia Johnson

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