U.S. workers in their workplaces are subjected to heat. Although heat exposure disease can be prevented, thousands of people get ill every year due to occupational heat exposure, and some
instances are deadly. In the first few days of living or working in a warm or hot settings, the majority of outdoor fatalities (50 percent to 70 percent) happen because the body requires to build a heat tolerance over time progressively. The building tolerance method is called heat acclimation. Failure to acclimatize is a significant risk factor for deadly results.
Heavy physical exercise, warm or hot environments, an absence of acclimatization, and the use of clothing containing bodily heat are occupational threat factors for heat illness. Hazardous heat exposure can take place in and outdoors and can happen in any season if the conditions are appropriate not just in hot waves.
OSHA needs employers to provide their staff with secure working environments. Moreover, while you are unable to regulate the climate, you can enforce heat stress hazard reduction strategies and processes. First, let’s look at what heat stress is.
What is Heat Stress
Heat stress occurs when the body can no longer maintain its average temperature. An amount of heat-related diseases can lead to heat stress. Hot cramps, heat exposure, and heat stroke are the most prevalent.
Those employees most susceptible are outdoor employees and workers in hot temperature work settings such as firefighters, bakeries, farmers, construction laborers, miners, boiler room personnel, and manufacturing workers. Employees who are 65 years or older, are overweight and have heart disease or higher blood pressure, or may receive medication that could be impacted by intense heat, are at higher risk of heat stress.
Control of Heat Stress
If adequate checks are not enforced, heat exposure and heatstroke may be deadly. Employers have a legal obligation to safeguard their employees’ health, including:
- A system to always investigate, record and report all related heat illness and injuries;
- Allocate 5 to 7 days for employees (new arrivals or employees who return from vacations) to acclimatize before workers begin work in the hot season;
- Ensure that a risk evaluation is done to determine where there are risks to heat pressure and who is at danger of heat-related disease;
- Ensuring the implementation of an efficient heat stress program ;
- Ensure all employees have access to drinking water ;
- Ensure that supplied food is evaluated to provide a healthy balanced diet with nutrition, electrolytes, and calories, to sustain high-temperature work;
- Ensuring the implementation of engineering control measures to eliminate a reasonable risk of heat exposure;
- Ensure that all executives, supervisors, first-aid workers and staff undertake the necessary training and education;
- Ensure that the work is self-paced and provide adequate breaks in terms of heat stress condition;
- Ensuring immediate access to medical care for workers with suspected heat illness cases;
- Ensure that workplaces comply with the midday break for outside staff during the summer months ;
- Provide medical clearance for heat treatment for those suffering from chronic disease (e.g., hypertension, obesity) or those required to use certain prescription medicines.
Engineering Controls for Heat stress may include:
- Adding ceiling insulation to reduce the transfer of solar heat;
- Provide shaded work spaces as much as possible;
- Providing cooled and air-conditioned resting places with accessible water or electrolyte beverages (not salt or saltwater) ;
- Use of exhaust ventilation above heat-generating procedures such as extraction hoods;
- Use of forced air ventilation such as fans to boost skin airflow and boost evaporation and cooling; and
- Use of cooled air from air conditioning
In cases where these controls are not sufficient to reduce exposures to or below the applicable limit, the use of heat-protective or auxiliary body cooling clothing or equipment, such as water-cooled clothing, air-frozen clothing, cooling vests and watered over carrying, should be added to these controls. Furthermore, when the weather service predicts that a heatwave is probable to happen, a heat warning program should also be introduced and reviewed.
Linda Rawson, is the Founder of DynaGrace Enterprises, inventor of WeatherEgg, and the author of The Minority and Women-Owned Small Business Guide to Government Contracts: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started