Late July brings some of the hottest temperatures of the year around the country. So it’s a good time for some refreshing refresher training on how your workers can beat the heat. Today’s Advisor gives you some training content.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) warns that heat-induced occupational illnesses, injuries, and reduced productivity can occur with excessive exposure to a hot work environment.
Heat-induced disorders include:
- Transient heat fatigue,
- Heat rash,
- Heat cramps,
- Heat exhaustion, and
Aside from these disorders, heat poses the threat of injuries because of accidents caused by slippery palms as a result of sweating, fogged-up safety glasses, and dizziness. Severe burns can also occur as a direct result of accidental contact with hot surfaces and steam.
NIOSH has assembled a number of handouts and other resources with information on heat-induced occupational illnesses, injuries, and reduced productivity, as well as methods that can be taken to reduce risk.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also provides helpful tips as to how individuals can avoid heat-related illness. That advice includes:
Drink more fluids, regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him or her how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
Don’t drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar: These actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
Stay indoors, if possible, in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.
Take a cool shower or bath, or move to an air-conditioned place. These are much better ways to cool off than using electric fans. Fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness.
Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
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Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others.
Check regularly on:
- Infants and young children
- People aged 65 or older
- People who have a mental illness
- Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure
Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Infants and young children, of course, need much more frequent watching.
Why It Matters
- Heat illnesses can be very serious—even deadly in some cases and with some high-risk populations.
- Your workers need to know how to protect themselves from the heat both on and off the job.
- As the summer wears on, workers may think they’ve gotten used to the heat and not be as cautious; continue to give them frequent reminders and brief training sessions all summer long to keep everyone safe.