Heat Stress Can Sneak Up on Workers – Be Prepared
Summer has begun and it brings hot weather – and potentially dangerous work conditions. SMACNA would like to remind both contractors and workers to take precautions to stay safe before a heatwave begins. There are usually signs and symptoms associated with the various forms of heat illness including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and, most dangerous of all, heat stroke (collectively referred to as “heat stress”).
The message is simple: Water. Rest. Shade.
On hot days, two important recommendations to avoid heat stress are frequent breaks in a cool or shady environment and drinking water every 15 minutes. It is also important to allow new workers to acclimate and build up resistance to the increased temperatures. A recent study of heat-related workplace fatalities found that most occurred during the worker’s first week on the job.
As part of its Heat Illness Prevention Campaign, OSHA offers a website to raise awareness of heat illness symptoms and prevention with educational and training resources in several languages. The site also links to the OSHA-National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Heat Safety Tool, an app available for iPhones and Androids. The updated app determines heat index values – a measure for how hot it feels – based on temperature and humidity. Workers exposed to hot and humid conditions are encouraged to use the app to check weather conditions if they will be outdoors for short or long periods during the summer heat.
SMACNA offers free heat stress tip cards with the message of “PAT” - Prevention – Awareness - Treatment. The tip cards can be used for effective toolbox talks and reminders on avoiding heat stress.
For more information: Contact SMACNA’s director of market sectors and safety at email@example.com, or 703-995-4027.