Summer heat can be brutal and combined with a job requiring people to work outside doing physical labor, like on a construction site, can lead to heat-related illnesses. Working in high temperatures, humidity and direct sunlight with no breeze is a cocktail that will put employees at risk for heat exhaustion, heat cramps or, even worse, heat stroke.
Protecting employees from heat stress should be a top priority while they are working on the job site. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a safety blueprint to help protect and keep employees safe during extreme heat conditions:
PREVENTING HEAT ILLNESSES:
- Be prepared- establish a complete heat illness prevention program and make sure everyone on the job site is prepared to handle heat-related illnesses.
- Provide training about the hazards that may lead to heat stress and heat-related illnesses and how to prevent them.
- Provide access to cool water near the job site. It is recommended to provide 1 pint per hour for workers. Drink water every 15 minutes before becoming dehydrated.
- Modify work schedules and plan for frequent rest periods in shaded or air-conditioned areas.
- Help workers adjust to extreme heat by changing up their workloads. For new personnel, gradually introduce new personnel to the job so that they can adjust to working in the heat.
- Have a foreman or designated person monitor workers when temperatures are hot.
- Consider requiring protective clothing that cools. Make sure workers wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing.
STEPS TO TAKE IF AN EMPLOYEE FALLS ILL FROM HEAT:
- Call 911 and call a supervisor, if one is available.
- Stay with the ill worker until help arrives.
- Move the worker to a cool or shaded area.
- Remove outer clothing and mist or fan the worker.
- If the worker is able to drink, give them water.
Companies also need to ensure that their commercial insurance policy is up-to-date especially your Workers Comp policy. Consult with one of our trusted advisors to review the policy.