With temperatures hitting the mid- to upper-90s, there is no doubt that summer is here! For those organizations that employ individuals who spend a significant amount of time working outside (construction workers, HVAC workers, delivery personnel, agricultural workers, landscaping/yard maintenance workers, etc.), it’s time to put a plan in place to make sure those employees don’t suffer from heat-related illnesses.
Individuals who work in direct sunlight, perform prolonged or strenuous work and/or wear heavy protective clothing are most vulnerable to heat related illnesses such as sunburn, heat rash, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or heat cramps.
Employers can prevent employees from succumbing to these illnesses by implementing the following practices:
- Require employees to drink water every 15 minutes…even if they aren’t thirsty
- Provide more frequent breaks to employees
- Provide shaded areas, if possible, in which employees can take breaks
- Require employees to wear hats and light-colored clothing
- Teach employees and supervisors how to recognize the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.
- Give temporary or newly hired employees an opportunity to acclimate themselves to the hot environment
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has a web page dedicated to the prevention of heat-related illnesses at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html and they have published the following chart on recognizing the symptoms of heat-related illnesses along with recommended first aid:
While waiting for help:
|* Remember, if you are not a medical professional, use this information as a guide only to help workers in need.|
Contributed by Christine Crews, SPHR, is Vice President of Human Resource Services for the Employers Association Forum, Inc. (EAF). EAF is a non-profit corporate membership-based association dedicated to serving the business and HR communities with world-class HR tools, hotlines & legal compliance, news & trends, surveys & economic data, benefits & insurance, risk management, training & consulting, and leadership & organizational development. HCCMO members receive discounted rates on all EAF classroom training at EAF’s training center in Longwood. Click here for currently scheduled programs: http://www.eafinc.org/online_store/training/HCCMO/training_programs.pdf.
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