This month, via promotion of National Safety Month, the National Security Council is encouraging everyone to take extra care and precaution to maintain personal and work safety. As you can imagine, heat is one of the biggest safety concerns during the summer. Working in a hot environment can be more than uncomfortable, it can be a health risk and dangerous. According to the Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, each year thousands of people become sick from heat-related illnesses. Last year, at least 30 workers in this country died from heat exposure.
It is important to understand how the body handles heat and hot conditions. As temperatures rise, the body releases heat more slowly. As humidity increases, sweat evaporation decreases and stagnant air makes sweat evaporation more difficult. When these three factors are combined, you have a higher potential for health and safety concerns.*
In addition to the personal health risks, it is important to note that you are putting yourself and others in your work environment at risk when you are not properly prepared for the heat. The chances for accidents due to sweaty hands, dizziness and decreased mental alertness go up considerably in hot conditions. Additionally, increased body temperature and discomfort can lead to irritability and frustration that could lend to more careless behavior.
The key to staying safe in the heat is to take preventative measures. OSHA advises workers to follow these simple steps:
- WATER: You need plenty of water throughout the day—every 15 minutes. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty.
- REST: Rest breaks help your body recover.
- SHADE: Resting in the shade or in air-conditioning helps you cool down.
Keep in mind that cool air from evaporative coolers can also be a practical alternative when air conditioned spaces are unavailable as noted in the “shade” step. Portacool evaporative coolers are portable and work off a standard 110-V plug making accessibility easy in hard-to-cool spaces or outdoors. You could even consider setting-up a cooling station.
Taking care to follow these tips can go a long way. This month we’ll continue to explore various heat-safety topics. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.
*Source: Click-Safety http://www.clicksafety.com Heat Stress Course