In the heat of the summer, working outside and inside can quickly become dangerous. Whether in a warehouse, on an assembly line or out on the railroad, industrial athletes — employees with physically demanding jobs — can be susceptible to many heat-related illnesses and injuries. A study revealed that workplace injuries can increase up to 15% in hot environments. Symptoms like thirst, heat exhaustion and heatstroke can become scary realities in a warm working environment. What steps can employers take to keep their workers cool in the heat?
Types of work environments that can be dangerous for employees in the summer
Heat-intensive workplaces can get even hotter in the summer months. Knowing which workplaces can be especially prone to heat-related illnesses can help employers prevent these problems and keep workers cool. Those workplaces can include:
- Lawns and yards.
- Construction sites.
- Electrical sites, like power lines.
4 things employers can do to keep workers cool in the heat
Instead of simply reacting to heat-related illnesses in hot environments, employers can stay one step ahead by trying a variety of preventive techniques. The following things can help workers keep cool in the heat:
- Acclimating new workers to the heat.
Brand-new workers can be especially susceptible to serious heat-related illnesses, like heat stress, vomiting and heatstroke. This is because they may not have acclimated to the intense heat beforehand. Acclimation is essential to a hot working environment. It gives an employee’s body the time it needs to get used to the hot environment before a full shift. It is recommended that new workers are exposed to 20% of the workplace’s heat on day one of working, increasing no more than 20% each additional day. Even seasoned workers have to reacclimate themselves to the heat after leaving the site for a few days.
- Offering employees shorter shifts.
No matter how acclimated an employee can be, working long hours in the heat can take a toll on the body. Rotating workers or splitting shifts throughout the day can reduce employees’ exposure to the heat and reduce the possibility of heat-related illnesses. Employers should also provide employees with the opportunity to cool down in air-conditioned spaces or in complete shade.
- Requiring hydration breaks.
Employees should drink at least 1 liter of water per hour, or 1 cup every 15 minutes, in order to properly replace fluids lost through sweat. Otherwise, the dangers related to dehydration can combine with the risks of overheating. Employers can encourage workers in warm environments to drink consistently by making cool drinking water easily accessible. Drinking cool water can help lower employees’ core temperatures and reduce the possibility of heatstroke. Requiring hydration breaks also helps workers avoid serious symptoms of dehydration.
- Educating employees and supervisors on heat-related illnesses.
By training employees and offering them resources on working in hot environments, employers can prevent on-site heat-related illnesses and injuries. Empowered with information about the symptoms of heat illness and injuries, employees can monitor themselves and their co-workers for signs of heat illness. This way, the proper first aid or emergency services can be contacted in enough time. Employees will also know the techniques to effectively cool themselves and other workers.
Work-Fit can help companies keep workers cool and prevent heat-related illnesses
If your employees are exposed to prolonged heat on a daily basis, you may need resources to keep them safe and informed. Work-Fit’s team of experts can help your company prioritize employee health — both in the summer heat and throughout the year. Contact our team today for more information about our services or to learn how we can help keep your employees work fit.