As we reach record high temperatures seemingly every summer, it's more important than ever to make sure that workers are protected when operating in the heat. Fortunately, there are quite a few preventative measures you can take to keep your employees safe. Learn how you can stay on top of OSHA heat illness prevention measures.
Occupational Safety and Health Act
In accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers are legally required to keep all workplaces they control free of safety and health hazards. This includes OSHA heat hazards, so it's essential that you take preventative measures if your workers spend any time operating in the heat. Remember, keeping workers safe on the jobsite is your responsibility.
Craft a Prevention Plan
When workers are exposed to high temperatures outside, you will need to create a plan to prevent heat illness similar to your overall safety plan. Begin by understanding heat hazards and the heat index. Fortunately, OSHA has an app that can track the heat index for you by showing you the temperature, humidity and what the temperature actually feels like based on those two factors.
The three most important factors for preventing heat illness are water, rest and shade. If you can consistently provide these for your workers, you will greatly reduce the risk of heat illness. Cool water should always be available for your workers to drink, though that's only the beginning. If you have workers who are going to spend more than two hours in the heat, such as in the construction industry, you will need to provide them with drinks that contain electrolytes as well.
Rest and shade can be provided simultaneously to your workers. If high heat conditions are prevalent at the worksite, you will need to require workers to take breaks. The frequency of these breaks depends on how severe the heat is. Breaks should be taken in the shade at the very least, but air-conditioned buildings or a tent with fans are preferable.
Know the Signs of Heat Illness
Even with an OSHA heat enforcement initiative in place, heat illness can still happen in hot conditions. Knowing the signs of illnesses from OSHA heat hazards, however, can help you take action and ensure that your workers get the treatment they need. The signs and symptoms are fairly straightforward. They include thirst, sweating, elevated body temperature, dizziness, weakness, headache and/or nausea.
If you start to notice these signs among your workers, you will need to take action. Move them to a cooler area out of the heat and have them remove any unnecessary clothing like heavy boots, hats or jackets. Make sure they have plenty of cool water to drink, and cool them with water, ice or a fan if possible. Of course, seek professional medical care for them as well if needed.
Keep Your Workers Covered
By committing to OSHA heat illness prevention measures, you can create a safe working environment that's good for your employees and legally compliant with regulations. Get in touch with our team to make sure you're staying compliant and keeping your people safe.