Summer Safety Series – Heat Related Illnesses

Summer Safety Series – Heat Related Illnesses

Beat the Heat

Summer is known for its sunshine and warm weather, perfect for vacations and beach days. But without proper precaution, the summer heat can become a dangerous health hazard. Understand the signs, symptoms, first-aid, and preventative measures you can take against heat related illnesses to help keep your employees safe and cool on the job.

RELATED POST: Summer Safety Series – Hydration

There are several types of heat related illnesses, all with their own set of symptoms and first-aid measures that should be taken. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published a comprehensive reference chart for all heat-related illnesses. Make your employees aware of the details for each type of heat-related illness so they can spot the signs in themselves and others and stop the progression of the illness before it’s too late.

Prevent Heat-Related Illness

While it is crucial that all employees know the symptoms and first-aid measures for heat-related illnesses, it is the employers job to help prevent heat-related illnesses from happening at all. OSHA defines four key measures to be put in place to prevent heat-related illnesses:
  • Engineering Controls - Prevent heat-related illnesses by creating a cool work environment through the use of:

    • Air conditioning
    • Increased ventilation
    • Fans
    • Reflective shields to redirect radiant heat
    • Other controls to keep the work space cool
  • Work Practices - Prevent heat-related illness by implementing work practices that reduce employees’ exposure to heat

    • Acclimatize workers who will be working in hot conditions
    • Allow workers to distribute their heat-exposed workload throughout the day
    • Make water easily accessible to all employees in all environments
    • Rotate job functions among several employees so no one is overexposed to heat
    • Limit physical demands during hot seasons
    • Have an emergency action plan in case of heat-related illness
  • PPE - Prevent heat-related illness through the use of personal protective equipment including:

    • Reflective clothing
    • Insulated gloves and suits
    • Breathable material clothing
    • Thermally conditioned clothing
    • Cooling towels
    • Portable fans
  • Training - Prevent heat-related illness by training employees on prevention, signs and symptoms, and first aid

Overall, the risk of heat related illnesses can be greatly reduced when the right preventative measures are taken. Take the time to assess the heat-related safety policies and practices of your organization and implement the necessary measures to prevent heat-related illness in your employees. Post the OSHA standard symptoms and first aid chart around your facility so your employees have a quick reference in case of emergency and make it a priority to educate all employees on the seriousness of heat-related illness.

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