What are you doing to protect your employees?
Heat stress related injuries are created when our body is unable to regulate heat production at a safe level.
Employees need to be aware of the signs and symptoms related to heat stress related injuries:
- Fatigue, weakness, fainting
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle cramps
- Sweating (absence or presence)
Heat stress related injury conditions can be further escalated by the physical condition of your employees. Employees at a greater risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke are those with:
- Heart or skin diseases
- Extensive burns
- Endocrine disorders (hyperthyroidism, diabetes, etc.)
- High blood pressure
- Depression, insomnia and fever.
Over the counter drugs can also contribute to a greater risk for these conditions.
What can you do to prevent heat stress related injuries?
- Limit your exposure to direct sunlight as much as possible.
- Drink more fluids (non-alcoholic); do not drink fluids that contain caffeine or large amounts of sugar. Sport drinks are good as they replace electrolytes and salt in your body. Avoid extremely cold fluids as these can cause stomach cramps. Drink often throughout the day 4-6 ounces at a time. Drivers who are on routes should pack a cooler with water for the day. WATER IS GOOD!
- Wear lightweight, light colored, loose fitting clothing that does not create a safety hazard for your work environment. If outdoors, wear a hat to reduce direct exposure to the sun.
- Avoid hot foods and heavy meals that add heat to your body.
- Keep an umbrella in the truck if you are operating in extreme conditions, (desolate, desert, etc.), this will allow you to move to an area with breeze and still be protected from the sun.
- If exposure to the sun is inevitable, apply generous amounts of sunscreen with a high SPF rating to exposed skin.
- Make sure your car/truck is in excellent condition. A good pre-trip inspection is crucial in extreme heat operating conditions to prevent breakdowns. Sure beats sitting on the road side in the extreme heat waiting for a costly repair or tow truck.
OHSA has a program for heat stress related injuries with many good resources for companies.