How to Prepare a Heat Illness Prevention Program

Much of the U.S. is well into the summer months, and if where you live is like our hometown in Nebraska, the heat can be brutal – 90℉ to 100℉ is often the norm in July. People working in outdoor professions are especially affected by posing serious safety hazards. Heat safety isn’t a concern just of oneself but should be a critical aspect of every contractor and job site supervisor. The most effective way to avoid heat illness is with properly crafted and implemented Heat Illness Prevention Programs. 

Regulatory agencies such as OSHA are cracking down on heat-related illnesses and enforcing regulations to prevent injuries. July 31st has even been coined National Heatstroke Prevention Day.

The bottom line is, heat-related illness and death are preventable. Below are the proactive steps to prepare effective heat awareness and prevention programs. 

Step 1 – Develop an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP)

Firstly, every business large or small should have an injury and illness prevention program in place to protect employees and their customers at every level. An injury and illness prevention program is a basic written safety program using clear language to communicate safety regulations and mitigation measures to all company individuals. 

Injury and illness prevention programs are not ready-made for any one business. The plan must be tailored to your company’s work environment, regulations, and methods specific to your industry. Heat illness prevention is a topic to be included in these programs. Its focus may vary depending on your company’s industry and work conditions. Regardless, gathering information on current safety rules, regulations and policies will be your first step. 

Step 2 – Implement Heat Illness Prevention Training

Secondly, for managers and employees, training is the most proactive method of preventing heat illness. Holding training sessions outside of, or as part of, daily safety meetings help to inform workers of the dangers of heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and heat cramps, as well as how to provide proper care for others who may be experiencing these illnesses.

As a quick review, here are the symptoms people may show with heat sickness. 

  • Heat Cramps: The most common heat-related injury. The muscles spasm due to heavy sweating. A person’s body fluids (water) are not being replaced quickly enough. It’s important to recognize this and begin to replenish your body with an electrolyte sports drink or clear juice. 
  • Heat Exhaustion: The person’s internal body temperature is abnormal. Symptoms can include headache, heavy sweating, dizziness, loss of coordination, nausea, rapid pulse, and others. It is critical that heat exhaustion be addressed immediately by medical professionals if the person becomes confused, unconscious or unable to drink
  • Heat Stroke: A life-threatening condition that occurs when the body has depleted all water and salt with a core temperature rising to deadly levels. Symptoms can include an elevated temperature while no longer sweating, flushed or red skin, rapid pulse, headache, and others. Advanced or critical symptoms can include convulsions, loss of consciousness, and body temperature reaching 108 degrees. The victim needs to be cooled rapidly and 9-1-1 must be contacted.

Training material must outline the additional training required for supervisors and job site leaders, given their increased responsibilities.  

Step 3 – Implement Daily Assessment Tools

Lastly, safety and daily assessment tools are a great way for supervisors to account for the heat index during peak heat times. Tracking the heat index will help to understand the impact excessive heat will have on work crews outdoors. 

To help safety leaders and supervisors plan and prevent heat illness Safety Reports offers the Job Safety Analysis App(JSA) to identify potential hazards and implement controls to minimize risks on the job site.

These tools and assessments need to be in the written injury and illness prevention program, as they are easily accessible during extreme heat and a primary prevention method. 

In conclusion, schedule a demo to see the benefits of the JSA app, and all other products by Safety Reports today! Keep your incident counter at zero even when the heat is off the charts.

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