Help Keep Employees Safe with these Tips from OSHA's Heat Illness Prevention Program
Date Posted: 5/16/2016
Spring is here and summer is coming which means warmer temperatures, longer and sunnier days, and an increase in heat-related illnesses. Fortunately, heat-illnesses are 100% preventable if you and your team are educated on how to avoid these situations by being prepared, aware of symptoms, and ready to handle the situation appropriately if heat-illness strikes your team.
OSHA's Heat Illness Prevention Program is using three simple words to remind people of the precautions to take that can make the difference between life and death. "Water, Rest, Shade."
Here are a few pointers and facts about heat-related illnesses that you will want to review with your team before the intense summer heat arrives:
- According to the CDC, 31% of weather-related deaths from 2006-2010 were due to excessive natural heat exposure, heat stroke, and/or sun stroke.
- According to Mayo Clinic, heat stroke occurs as a result of prolonged exposure to a hot environment and strenuous activity.
- Wearing excess clothing, drinking alcohol, and becoming dehydrated contribute to heat stroke.
Steps your team can take to Prevent Heat-Related Illness:
- Acclimate yourself and your crew to the summer heat by gradual exposure
- Drink water every 15 minutes and take short breaks to cool down.
- New workers, temporary workers, or those returning after time off, should take extra care in acclimating to the heat.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion:
- High Core Temperature
- Cool, Pale, Clammy skin
- Possible Fainting
- Muscle Cramps
- Profuse Sweating
How to Treat Heat Exhaustion:
Stop all activity and rest. Move to a cooler place and drink cool water. If symptoms don't improve within an hour, contact a physician. If your temperature exceeds 104, seek immediate medical attention.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke:
- High Core Temp (up to 106)
- Rapid, Shallow Breathing
- Possible Loss of Consciousness
- Hot, Red, Dry Skin
- All Sweating has Stopped
- Rapid Pulse
- Confusion, Strange Behavior
How to Treat Heat Stroke:
Heat stroke is diagnosed by looking at signs and symptoms. It is also a medical emergency - call 9-1-1 immediately. As a result of the dehydration, extreme core body temperature, and other factors serious complications may result - including vital organ damage and/or death.
The primary focus of heat stroke is to bring the core body temperature down, to avoid damage to the brain and other organs. Do this by moving away from the sun, having a cold water or ice bath, wet sheets, spraying water in the person, but avoid shivering because that increases the core body temperature. If the person is conscious and alert, offer them water or other fluids.
How to Avoid Heat Illness:
- Drink large amounts of fluid during heat waves - often thirst is a late indicator of dehydration.
- Wear loose fitting, light colored clothes.
- Take short breaks, out of sunlight.
OSHA has a complete list of training programs, materials, visual aids, written articles, pocket/wallet size literature for reminders and references, and information for your teams working in the heat. Heat-related illnesses and death are 100% preventable if you, your team, and your supervisors are educated and alert.
Visit OSHA's Heat Related Illness directory for more information, statistics, and plans, or feel free to contact R.V. Evans Company to learn more about ways to keep your employees safe.
Download OSHA's Heat Safety Tool app for iPhone and Android.