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Overtime

Cost-effective ways to reduce heat-stress risk


As the mercury in a thermometer rises, beating the heat is not solely an outdoor issue. For environments such as pulp and paper mills, foundries and bakeries, significant radiant heat is generated that can put individuals at risk if heat stress-related injuries regardless of the time of year and temperature outside.

Whether inside or outside, too-high temperatures can put health and safety on the line. Hot temperatures may initially illicit responses that seem to have little impact on safety, such as irritability. But as body heat rises, responses can grow far more serious.

Moving from a comfort range of 20 to 27 degrees Celsius to the limit of temperature tolerance, at about 35 to 40 C, a worker may experience loss of concentration, more errors, heavy load on the heart, fatigue and the threat of exhaustion. Imagine the effect on a worker climbing a ladder, standing at a moving conveyor or using a chain saw. Gear to help keep body temperature from rising includes cooling vests, ventilated hard hats, headbands and hydration systems.

Many factors will influence how hot a worker “feels.” Beyond temperature, there is humidity, air movement, physical exertion, time of day, breaks, clothing and sources of heat. Heat loading is a function of metabolic heat generated, radiant heat, convective heat, conductive heat and evaporative heat loss.

Keeping cool demands a mix of responses, but a good starting point may be proper hydration. There is definitely a place for electrolyte replacement drinks as part of a hydration program.

Keeping a step ahead of the heat also requires paying attention to the head. Most people know that covering the head is critically important to keeping warm, but looking to the top also figures prominently when it comes to keeping cool.

Cooling products like Ergodyne’s Chill-Its 6700CT Evaporative Cooling Bandanas with Cooling Towel can help keep workers cool. This low-maintenance and reusable evaporative cooling bandana made with advanced durable PVA material offers instant cooling relief without the bulk. Simply soak it in water for up to a minute and drape it around your neck, shoulders and head for drip-free cooling relief as temperatures rise. This product features tie closure and towel liner with a universal size for versatile styling.

Degil Safety Products in Vaughan, Ontario, offers a deluxe cellulose sweatband that is thicker, more absorbent and features a fine porosity that helps with cooling by dipping it in cold water, squeezing out the excess water and wearing it.

Well-Vested

Apart from bandanas and sweatbands, cooling vests are also available to workers who are at risk of heat stress. Glacier Tek’s classic cool vest with non-toxic cooling packs helps keep the wearer cool, comfortable and focused. For added comfort, the eight cooling packs included with this vest feature horizontal cells that conform to the wearer’s torso as he or she bends and stretches.

Grainger also offers cooling vests with Cold Pack Insert Cooling Vests, which are available with buckles, zippers or hook-and-loop closures. Another option to protect wearers from excessive heat is the Cold Water Immersion Cooling Vest, which features non-toxic polymer fabric construction and can be activated by soaking in water. Hook-and-loop closures help to facilitate quick adjustment.

Indoor air quality is important wherever you work, but can be a challenge to accomplish in large spaces. High Volume Low Speed Fans help existing HVAC systems blend fresh air into work spaces of all sizes.

Natural ventilation can certainly help maintain good air quality and keep workplaces cool by circulating the air within. High volulme low-speed (HVLS) fans offer an efficient and cost-effective cooling solution to maximize the comfort level and productivity of employees. Apart from improving ventilation and indoor air quality of an enclosed area, HVLS fans also eliminate condensation buildup by constantly mixing air from the roof to the floor.

This articles was written by OHS Canada.