How to Protect Your Team From Workplace Heat - Worksite Medical
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With parts of the nation facing unprecedented heat waves, it’s a better time than ever to make sure your workers are safe from heat hazards in the workplace. 


Emergency Rule in Oregon


In June, a farm worker in Oregon was found unresponsive at the end of his shift.

OSHA then issued an emergency rule in the state that strengthens requirements for employers to protect workers from the effects of high and extreme heat. The rule went into effect on July 8 and will remain in place for 180 days. 

Under the rule, employers must ensure that all employees and supervisors are educated on the risks of heat illness, the procedures for complying with rule requirements, ways to adapt to hot environments, the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness, and most importantly, the importance of reporting signs or symptoms in themselves or coworkers as soon as possible. 

The rule also increases requirements for employers to provide more access to cold water and shade. 


How to Reduce Hazardous Heat in the Workplace


Heat exposure can cause health issues such as stroke and even cause death. It can also lead to lack of focus, which may cause other accidents.

The measures below are great steps to follow to reduce employee exposure to heat hazards: 

  1. Rest. Water. Shade: Employers need to provide ample water for workers as well as scheduled breaks to rest, and a shaded area to cool down and recover.
  2. Education: Take time to educate workers on how the body responds to heat and hot conditions. Symptoms can include headaches, nausea, dizziness, confusion, and loss of consciousness.
  3. Create a safety plan: Heat safety should be included as part of an injury and illness prevention program. Establish a written plan based on current safety rules, policies, and practices. Train supervisors on safety planning related to heat safety.
  4. Utilize engineering controls: Additional measures may need to be taken in environments that are difficult to cool. Such as placing a portable evaporative cooler in areas where heat is generated. These devices can create cool air by combining the ambient air with water, as opposed to a fan that blows stagnant air.
  5. Let workers acclimate: This is an important and necessary process. Effective heat acclimation will gradually increase worker exposure to heat over a one to two week period. This ensures that workers can build up tolerance to the heat, ensuring safety and increasing productivity by reducing mistakes made as a result of heat fatigue.
  6. Schedule Accordingly: Adapt worker activity to account for high heat conditions. Can work be done earlier or later in the day when the sun isn’t as strong?


Heat Safety Technology


Technology helps employers supplement OSHA’s “Rest. Water. Shade.” mantra.

Download the OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool app for a real-time heat index, hourly forecasts, and additional safety and health recommendations from both agencies to help better plan for outdoor activities.

The app categorizes current risk conditions from minimal to extreme with heat values forecasted hourly. 

John Howard, M.D., director of NIOSH, stated that, “in many cases, workers rely on their employers to provide opportunities for taking rest breaks and drinking water.

“This app puts life-saving information at the fingertips of both supervisors and workers to inform them when they need to take precautions to stay safe at the worksite.”

Evaporative cooling gear is also becoming a popular trend in hot work environments.

Although common sense might tell you to wear less clothing, cooling garments, such as vests, draw heat from workers’ bodies to provide an enhanced cooling effect.  

While the summer can present heat hazards for workers, it’s important to stay proactive about health and safety on your worksite all year round.

Learn more about instituting a mobile medical surveillance program for comprehensive employee health screening here.

Download the OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool here.



About Worksite Medical

In most cases, OSHA requires medical surveillance testing, and at no cost to employees.

Worksite Medical makes that program easier with mobile medical testing.

We conduct on-site respirator fit tests, as well as audiometric exams, pulmonary function tests and heavy metal lab work, right on your job site. We also keep accurate, easy-to-access medical records for your convenience. You’ll keep your employees at work, and stay ahead of OSHA inspections.

With Worksite Medical, a mobile medical testing unit — we can bring all the resources of a lab to you. Our certified lab technicians can perform both qualitative and quantitative respirator tests to ensure a perfect fit.

Protect your team and your workplace now with Worksite Medical. Not sure what you need? Try our medical testing wizard here.

Give us a call at 1-844-622-8633, or complete the form below to schedule an on-site visit or to get your free quote!

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