Tips for Keeping Employees Safe When Working in the Heat - Service Uniform TX
As the summer sun begins creeping up on us in Texas, so do safety risks. The safety of workers spending these long summer days working in the heat is in jeopardy every year.
While many individuals look forward to barbecues and days out playing ball, employers should be worrying about how they’re going to shade their employees from the hot beating rays of danger.
The Risks of Working in the Heat
Some may look at heat as a simple and uncomfortable nuisance. It slows you down, makes you sweat and makes you want to just lie down and take a nap. But working in the heat is much more serious than a simple reduction in employee productivity. According to OSHA, “Every year, dozens of workers die and thousands more become ill while working in extreme heat or humid conditions.”
Resulting conditions from working in the heat include:
- Heat Stroke – Can Result in Seizures, Comas and Death: Symptoms: Hot, red and dry skin; Confusion and/or slurred speech; Nausea; Throbbing headache; Accelerated breathing and heart rate
- Heat Exhaustion – Can Lead to Heat Stroke: Symptoms: Low blood pressure resulting in dizziness and faintness; Heavy and profuse sweating; Heat cramps; Nausea; Headache
While working in the heat is no safe matter, take a deep breath and relax. We have all the tips you need to start implementing a heat safety program right away.
Tips to Protect Employees from Occupational Heat Exposure
1. Give employees the chance to get acclimated to the heat.
Your body needs time to adjust to the outdoor temperature. As the summer sun gets hotter, make sure to shorten shifts and then steadily lengthen them over time. This gives employees the chance to get used to working in the heat. This doesn’t just apply to new employees but any individual as they will still need to get re-acclimated.
2. Have a plan in place on what to do if someone is experiencing heat illness.
Protecting employees is not as simple as just calling 911 at the sight of possible danger. You need to become well-versed in what strategies are essential when you see someone experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above for heatstroke and heat exhaustion.
3. Train employees to recognize symptoms of heat illness.
You’re not going to always be able to keep a close eye on your employees. And sometimes an individual might not notice these symptoms when they’re happening or may not take them seriously. So, it’s important to train employees to be able to identify when their coworkers might be in danger and what to do.
4. Make sure employee uniforms allow them to dress for the weather.
Tight-fitting, dark clothing can enhance the effects of the sun’s heat on the body. Unless this clothing is required for PPE purposes, it’s important to dress employees in clothing that will help them cool off, such as loose-fitting clothing.
5. Have employees work in the cooler parts of the day.
Hire employees for particular shifts that require them to primarily just work in the morning or in the evening. That way you avoid the midday sun rays as much as possible.
6. If the above is not possible, rotate shifts or job responsibilities.
Break up an employee’s workday with some time spent outside as well as time spent either in the shade or indoors doing other administrative-type tasks. This way they reduce their exposure to heat throughout the day.
7. Require water breaks every 15 minutes.
Chugging water at different points in the day doesn’t actually help your body stay hydrated. The OSHA recommends that every 15 minutes, employees should sip on some water to maintain their bodies’ hydration.
8. Permit and encourage breaks to rest and cool down.
If employees are spending the entire day out in the heat, heat illnesses are bound to happen. Don’t make them feel bad for naturally wanting to take breaks from their work to cool off. In fact, encourage them to do so. This will make them more productive and focused when on the job and less likely to experience ill effects from the sun.
Keeping your employees safe on the job is all about understanding not just their need to remain productive, but also their physiological need to remain comfortable. Therefore, encourage them to take frequent rest breaks and water breaks, make sure they are wearing the appropriate uniforms, try to keep them out of the beating sun as much as possible and make sure they are educated on signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion so they can keep each other safe.
At Service Uniform, we provide a variety of uniforms with value-added benefits. If the coming summer heat is making you question the uniforms you currently have in place, give us a call. We’ll help you get the best uniforms for your company’s and employees’ needs, and we’ll even launder them for you on a consistent basis!
Contact us today at 210-226-2233 to check one item off your summer safety to-do list.