Working in the intense heat of the summer sun can put workers at risk of heat stress, which can also hit you in places you wouldn’t expect. “Any job that causes your body temperature to rise has the potential to cause heat stress,” says WSPS occupational hygiene consultant Michael Puccini. “Even jobs carried out in air-conditioned environments.”
Left unchecked, heat stress can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heart attack, and other physical health effects. Plus, it can be damaging to business, by way of lost productivity, disability costs, and fines and penalties.
Prepare for the heat now
These heat waves may last only a week or two, but in this time workers can suffer debilitating effects and even death. A few simple steps taken now can keep your people thriving and productive even in the hottest weather.”Based on the internal responsibility system, everyone has a role to play,” says WSPS occupational hygienist Warren Clements. “Employers, supervisors and workers can all make a difference in their workplaces.”
Steps for employers:
Put a policy and procedures in place, based on a risk assessment. Ask questions, such as:
This will help you understand the magnitude of the issue. If heat stress may be a hazard, you may want to conduct heat stress measurements so you can develop a control plan. The plan should include engineering controls, such as insulating hot surfaces.
Train all employees during orientation on the policy and procedures to manage the hazard.
Steps for supervisors:
Steps for workers:
Watch out for each other and speak up. “People suffering from heat stress don’t always recognize their own symptoms. If anyone’s behaviour is ‘more than usual’ – more sweating, more flushed, hyperventilating – it could be a sign of heat stress.” Other signs could include rashes, muscle cramping, dizziness, fainting, and headaches.
For more information, visit: Workplace Safety & Prevention Services
This article was published in Fruit & Vegetable.