How to Avoid Heat Stress in the Workplace
Hot temperatures can make it tough for aerial lift operators to stay focused. As an employer, you are responsible for educating your aerial lift operators about heat stress in the workplace. By educating your employees about heat stress prevention, you can help them avoid heat-related illnesses that lead to workplace accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
What is Heat Stress in the Workplace?
Heat stress in the workplace occurs if the body cannot get rid of excess heat. In this instance, the body’s core temperature and heart rate rises. High humidity and air temperatures are key contributors to heat stress. Also, heat stress can affect those who come into contact with hot objects or perform strenuous physical activities.
Initially, working in the heat can cause operators to lose concentration. Heat stress can and cause operators to become irritable or sick or lose the desire to consume water or other liquids. It can even be fatal if it goes unaddressed for an extended period of time.
It’s important to stay fit when you’re working outdoors or in the heat. Even the most athletic workers can find it hard to maintain their usual rate of productivity when temperatures are high. Aerial lift operators age 65 years and older are more susceptible to heat stress than others. Those who are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure, or take medications also face a higher risk of heat stress symptoms.
Heat Stress Prevention Tips
Heat stress prevention is critical for all businesses that employ aerial lift operators. Since operators may spend long periods of time in hot temperatures, their employers must take steps to protect these workers against heat stress. Otherwise, prolonged exposure to extreme heat can increase the risk of aerial lift accidents.
1. Offer Regular Breaks
Heat stress prevention in the workplace begins with regular breaks. If working in the sun, make sure employees have some shade or access to air conditioning for their breaks. Reducing your body’s core temperature – even for ten minutes or so – can help you stay alert and active for the rest of your shift.
2. Help Your Workers Stay Hydrated
Working in the heat warrants constant water consumption. By sipping on cool water throughout the day, workers are less inclined to become dehydrated. Encourage employees to bring in their own bottles, but make sure to have your own cooler full of water available as backup, too.
3. Go Beyond Water
While water is an excellent choice for hydration, it can lack the punch that’s necessary for industrial athletes. We lose electrolytes through our sweat, and water doesn’t replace them. That’s why you see so many people turn to sports drinks to help refuel. Gatorade and other drinks with added electrolytes can go a long way when it comes to heat stress prevention.
4. Wear Light-Colored Clothing
Encourage your operators to wear light-colored clothing that helps them stay cool. This heat stress prevention tip works because light-colored surfaces absorb less heat. Moisture-wicking fabrics can also come in handy on hot days.
5. Do the Right PPE
The right clothing can make all the difference when it comes to avoiding heat stress in the workplace. Sunglasses or safety glasses protect eyes from the harsh rays of the sun. Wide-brimmed hats provide additional protection. If hard hats are required, consider investing in PPE that includes sun visors or neck shades.
6. Use Sunblock and Reapply Frequently
Protecting workers from heat stress means staying safe in the sun. If employees are working outdoors, it’s important that they use sunblock of at least SPF 15. Waterproof varieties are especially useful for those who work up a sweat on the job. Keep in mind that sunblock needs to be reapplied every two hours for it to be effective.
7. Keep an Eye Out for Warning Signs of Heat Stress
Be on the lookout for symptoms of heat stress, including cramps, sudden tiredness, rapid heartbeat, and blurred vision. If any workers begin experiencing such symptoms, seek medical treatment. While that may sound like overkill, downplaying the impact of heat stress in the workplace can be incredibly dangerous.
8. Educate Your Workers About Heat Stress Safety
Provide aerial lift safety training to educate your workers about working in the heat and the dangers associated with it.
Remain persistent in your efforts to protect your workers against heat stress. That way, you can help your employees guard against heat stress and comply with OSHA regulations.
OSHA Heat Stress Safety Requirements
Up to 70% of outdoor fatalities occur in the first few days after employees work in hot temperatures, according to OSHA. Fortunately, you can establish a heat stress prevention program that aligns with OSHA requirements.
OSHA offers guidance to help businesses comply with heat stress safety regulations. Follow this guidance, and your business will be well-equipped to protect its workers against heat stress.
Learn More About Heat Stress Prevention in the Workplace
For those who want to learn more about heat stress in the workplace, CertifyMeOnline.net can help. We offer an OSHA-approved certification training program for aerial lift operators that provides insights into heat stress prevention and other safety topics.
We are happy to provide additional details about our training program, how it works, and its benefits. For more information about our program or to enroll your workers in it, please contact us online or call us today at (602) 277-0615.