As we enter the hottest part of the year here in the Northwest, it’s important to review heat related illnesses. Heat stroke is the most serious, but heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rash can also be avoided with planning and preparation. A complete heat illness prevention program should be established that provides training about the hazards leading to heat stress and how to prevent them.
Precautions you should take include providing plenty of cool water for workers on your job site – at least one pint per hour is needed. Educate workers on hydrating before coming to work. If you can, modify work schedules to avoid the hottest parts of the day and arrange frequent rest periods with water breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas. Wear lightweight, light colored, loose-fitting clothes and avoid waterproof clothing. Know the signs/symptoms of heat illnesses and use a buddy system. If possible, more physically demanding tasks should be reduced during hot weather and scheduled for cooler times of the day. Rotating job functions among workers can help minimize overexertion and heat exposure. In addition, don’t forget the sunblock. Sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) radiation which causes premature aging of the skin, wrinkles, cataracts, and skin cancer.
If someone is ill due to heat, move the worker to a cool/shaded area and remove outer clothing. Provide cool drinking water if the employee is able to drink; and fan or mist the worker with water. If the worker is not alert or seems confused, these are classic signs of heat stroke. Call 911 immediately and attempt to cool them off as soon as possible.
If you have any questions about how to set up a Heat Stress prevention program, contact me at (206) 579-5749 or ABC at (425) 646-8000.
David Boehm, CDMS
Safety and Loss Control Specialist
Aspire Consulting LLC