By Bill Tricarico
Senior Risk Management Consultant
McNeil & Company, Inc.
The title reflects an initiative from OSHA to help reduce heat illness in workers during hot weather. The summer is here and that means hot and humid weather in most of the country. While the weather changes, our jobs do not. Workers must still provide their services no matter what the thermometer indicates. There are several means to reduce the likelihood of the severe health problems brought on by heat exhaustion such as heat stroke which can be fatal. Even minor heat exhaustion can cause confusion which may increase the chance for accidents and injuries.
Heat illnesses don’t kill immediately but can shut down major organs causing heart, liver, kidney and muscle damage, nervous system problems, and blood dis-orders. Certainly nothing you would want to expose to your workers.
Be certain that your workers are aware of the initial symptoms of heat exhaustion such as headache, dizziness, weakness, wet skin, irritability, thirst, and nausea and to get help.
The title of this article and OSHA’s initiative provides good advice to keep your workers safe from the effects of heat exhaustion. First, is water. Workers should drink small amounts of water frequently during their shift even if they’re not thirsty, rather than large amounts less often. They should avoid drinks such as soda or coffee which contain caffeine. Also sports drinks which may contain too much sugar. Remind workers to drink plenty of water after work at home to help their bodies recover from the workday.
Workers should be able to rest after working in a hot environment and this should be done out of the sun, preferably in a cooler or air conditioned area to help the body recover from excessive heat.
OSHA provides a wealth of information on the topic on their website at no cost. The site, https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html contains informative material, educational resources, training, safety posters, heat illness prevention plans, and other good advice to keep all workers safe and allow them to do their job in any type of weather. They also have a link to a smartphone app which pro-vides additional assistance.
Heat exhaustion is dangerous, so be prepared this summer so all workers and their families can enjoy a great Labor Day picnic.