The smart approach to work-related heat stress prevention includes setting up a wellness program for employees at risk. This can include those who work outdoors and in hot environments, like firefighters, farmers, miners, bakery and boiler room workers, construction and factory workers, who wear PPE according to their work requirements. Wellness programs aim to educate teams on how to pro-actively ensure their health is not affected in any way by working in the extreme conditions. It includes training on using PPE correctly, and on being aware of resources that are available, and of the preventive measures that need to be taken before going to work in the heat.
What can you do to educate your team?
- Stress the importance of wearing PPE even in hot weather. Wear the required PPE with added heat stress prevention features, for example, use vented helmets instead of plain ones, get cooling towels, wraps, and vests, neck shades to cool down.
- Educate on the life-threatening symptoms to watch out for: hot, dry skin or profuse sweating, high body temperature, confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech, and seizures.
- Implement the following steps to assist your crew in staying safe in hot weather:
- Take your time to acclimate: work short shifts to gradually get used to heat
- Drink water before you get thirsty
- Schedule frequent breaks to cool down
- Install sunscreen dispensers in multiple locations, and encourage the team to use them
- Provide sunscreen packs and lip balms with UVA/UVB protection qualities
- Show how to treat an employee suffering from heat exhaustion before 911 arrives: cool down with cold compresses, give cool water, remove unnecessary clothing