I just got back from visiting clients in beautiful San Antonio. Normally, the trip requires a five hour drive from my office and no matter which of the two highways I choose, there is always construction going on.
On the way to San Antonio, I chose scenic highway US 281. Construction crews were creating passing lanes on the long stretches between small towns. The temperature was 100 degrees. There were lots of workers spreading asphalt, moving dirt and generally making life miserable for drivers attempting to move south.
On the way home, I chose Interstate 35 – which is also under construction. Again, construction crews armed with bigger machines and equipment were toiling away in 100 degree heat. My normal five hour drive turned into a six hour ordeal…
It’s HOT! Even workers used to laboring outdoors in the Texas summer are affected when the combination of heat, bright sunshine, and high humidity are in play. Heat stress can sneak up on the most seasoned worker.
Even workers laboring indoors in un-air conditioned shops and warehouses during the hot summer months are likely to be affected by heat stress. Electric fans blowing humid 100 degree air around do little to keep employees safe from the effects of heat stress.
Employers would do well to take notice of the conditions and ensure that employees are aware of the effects of heat stress and ways to combat it. Changing work hours to take advantage of cooler morning temps is a great idea. So too are supplying LOTS of cool water and erecting temporary shade for employees who must work outdoors to rest in when the heat becomes oppressive. Lengthening break times or allowing more frequent short breaks can help keep employees fresh and productivity up.
Supervisors need special training on recognition of heat stress symptoms among the employees they supervise. Supervisors should be trained to react immediately and take steps to care for affected employees as soon as the symptoms arise.
Many states – like California – have regulations requiring employers to create and implement a written Heat Illness Prevention Program. The requirements include training employees on recognizing the onset of heat stress as well as ways to reduce heat stress effects.
The Safety Team at Employers Resource assists our clients with preparation of written heat stress awareness programs. We also provide training materials geared toward most types of businesses to reduce the potential for heat stress illness among workers. To find out more about how ERM can help your company keep employees safe, give us a call. We’ll be glad to help!