Much of the U.S. is well into the summer months and the heat can be brutal. 90℉ to 100℉ is often the norm in July. Importantly, people working in outdoor professions are affected the most by this. Heat safety should be a critical aspect of every contractor and job site supervisor. Now, the most effective way to avoid heat illness is with well-crafted and executed Heat Illness Prevention Programs. For instance, regulatory agencies, such as OSHA, are cracking down on heat-related sicknesses and enforcing regulations to prevent injuries.
The bottom line is heat-related illnesses and death are preventable. Now, below are the proactive steps to prepare a heat awareness and prevention program.
Step 1 – Develop an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP)
To begin, every business, large or small, should have an injury and illness prevention program in place to protect employees and their customers. An injury and illness prevention program is a written safety program to communicate safety regulations and mitigation measures to all company individuals. However, these programs are not ready-made for any one business. They must fit your company’s work environment, rules, and specific industry methods. And, preventing heat illness is a topic to be included. But, 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. That is to say, 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. Also, it shows how to provide proper care for others who may be experiencing them. To sum up, here are the symptoms people with heat sickness may show:
Heat Cramps: The most common heat-related injury. The muscles spasm due to heavy sweating. A person’s body fluids (water) are not getting 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. Heat exhaustion must 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. Now, advanced or critical symptoms can include convulsions, loss of consciousness, and body temperature reaching 108 degrees. And, the victim needs to be cooled rapidly and contact 9-1-1 immediately.
Above all, 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 tools and daily assessments are an effective way for supervisors to report for the heat index during peak heat times. Now, tracking the heat index will help to understand the impact too much heat will have on work crews outdoors. For example, to aid safety leaders and supervisors plan and prevent heat illness, Safety Reports offers the Job Safety Analysis App (JSA). In other words, it helps identify potential hazards and implement controls to minimize risks on the job site. Above all, 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.