As summer approaches now is the perfect time to prepare and implement a heat prevention plan for your team. While safety is important year-round, heat is the number one leading cause of death among all weather conditions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019 there were 43 work-related deaths due to heat exposure. Many people who have a pre-existing medical condition such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes are at a greater risk of exhaustion or a heat stroke if proper precautions are not taken.
Recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke by reviewing some characteristics of each.
Heat exhaustion is considered a milder version of a heat stroke as it is caused by your body overheating itself. There are two types of heat exhaustion. The first is water depletion. Signs can include weakness, headaches, and excessive thirst. The second is salt depletion and its signs can include nausea, vomiting and dizziness. While the symptoms are usually less severe, it is important to get out of the heat and find an air-conditioned room or a shady place to cool off.
Heat stroke is more severe and without emergency treatment it could cause serious damage to your heart, brain or result in death. Symptoms can include a body temperature of 104 F or higher, change in mental status or behavior, rapid breathing, and a rapid heart rate. If you believe someone is experiencing a heatstroke it is important to call 911 and immediately cool the person off with water, place wet towels on their head and neck, as well as get them to a cool location.
Heat illnesses can be prevented and those who work in construction or outdoors understand how hot it can get. Management should commit to implementing a heat prevention plan on a jobsite during the warmer months. Heat safety training will ensure that employees have correct knowledge and steps to protect their health and those around them. Not only will the training reduce the number of workplace injuries it will also avoid any potential fines and penalties. If you need assistance creating an OSHA-compliant heat prevention plan or making sure your workplace is up to date with its safety regulations, contact us today.
Here are 5 summer safety tips:
- Invest in a construction fan. Sites with poor air circulation can cause a heat and air quality hazard.
- Keep water everywhere. Staying hydrated with water ensures maximum hydration over other beverages.
- Take plenty of breaks. Rest and recover in shaded areas to allow your body to remain cool.
- Take care of your head. It’s important to keep your head covered and out of direct sunlight to maintain your body temperature.
- Watch for symptoms of heat illness. Having your team educated will allow everyone to keep an eye on others if they begin to exhibit any symptoms.