Finally, winter is thawing and we can relax and enjoy the warmer temperatures! But summer can be one of the most dangerous times of year, particularly for those who work laborious jobs outside. Workers in construction, landscaping, agriculture, and utilities are all at risk for heat illnesses. And they can affect anyone, regardless of age or physical fitness. Workers need water, rest, and shade. Here’s how you can protect your workers and your business this summer.
4 Ways You Should Be Addressing Summer Safety
Know the risks
If your employees are physically exerting themselves in high temperatures, they risk heat stress and related illnesses—heat strokes, exhaustion, and cramps. When the core body temperature rises to critical levels, it’s important to watch for the signs of heat stress. This includes cramps, chest pain, dizziness, headaches, heavy perspiration, moist and clammy skin, labored breathing, muscle cramps, nausea, rapid heartbeat, and feeling weak or lightheaded. These can have very serious consequences, including death.
Understand your responsibility
According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration law, you, the employer, are responsible for ensuring that your employees are safe from known safety hazards and this includes extreme heat. If your workers are exposed to high temperatures, you should establish a heat illness prevention program.
Protect your workers
Encourage your workers to be fully hydrated when they arrive at work and to continue to hydrate throughout the day. They should refrain from caffeine and alcohol as these can further the effects of dehydration. OSHA recommends employers provide one pint of water per worker, per hour. Have your workers wear loose-fitting, breathable cotton clothing, sunglasses, hats, and sunscreen. Ensure frequent breaks in shaded or cooled areas. Allow your workers to perform the more labor-intensive tasks early in the morning or in the evening, when the sun isn’t as severe. Consider using fans, misters, coolers, screens, and umbrellas to create shade outside. Make sure your employees are trained about the hazards of heat stress and how to prevent them. They should know what to do if they feel ill and how to spot signs of illness in their colleagues.
Protect your reputation
When you prioritize workplace safety, you’re showing your employees that you care about them, which attracts good workers. Workplaces with good safety records and health leadership initiatives are usually rated as better places with more satisfied, engaged employees. There’s less turnover and higher productivity. So, prepare your company and your employees for the scorching summer heat! You’ll add value to your business and boost your ability to attract, retain, and recruit skilled workers.
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