Summer brings a new set of workplace hazards. Workers will be affected by heat and humidity, in and out of the sun.
Plan ahead in the spring for hot weather supplies and facility adaptation. Ventilation and liquids are important to keep employees cool and hydrated.
Beware of insects and animals, which are both very active during this hottest season. OSHA requires that employers take action to have these workplace hazards removed.
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Dan Clark: Hello, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.
Summertime is fun, but summertime in the workplace can mean danger. From a safety standpoint, the higher temperatures can mean greater risks. What kind? How about heat stress. Even when workers are in a building, heavy machinery can cause the building to heat up very quickly, especially if there is low ventilation and high outside temperatures. Sun exposure for workers can be a big problem, including sunburn or sunstroke. Dehydration—now, this can happen very quickly, especially in dry climates when sweat evaporates quickly.
Dangerous insects. Now, poisonous and stinging bugs become more active in the summer. You know this. So, beware of them. And animals. Workers may run into them outside, but some animals try to enter buildings just to find shade.
Well, let’s take a look at some of the factors that can contribute to heat related injuries. In the environment, you have:
– High temperature and humidity.
– Radiant heat sources.
– Contact with hot objects.
– Exposure to the sun.
– Limited air movement.
Now, beyond the environment, specifically for the job:
– Physical exertion – plain old hard work can cause a heat related injury.
– PPE (personal protective equipment) that isn’t breathable.
So, how do you fight these summer workplace hazards?
#1 Frequent breaks. Maybe a few minutes per hour depending on the type of work.
#2 Cool rooms. If your location is capable, air-conditioned spaces for recovery during the breaks.
#3 Liquids. Lots of liquids.
#4 Ice or Popsicles. To rehydrate and provide energy.
#5 Air circulation. Even just using fans to circulate warm air is better than stagnant air.
#6 Sun protection. Shade areas; suggesting long sleeves and hats for workers; and, if you provide sunscreen, buy new every year because it has a short shelf life.
Now, let’s take a look at animals and insects. Most of the time they will not pose a huge threat to workers, but employers are required to deal with them. So you should remove all bee and wasp hives prevent stings. Remove small animals that may chew through wires or damage equipment. If you provide bug sprays, products with DEET have a long shelf life. Others with other active ingredients vary by the product.
And finally, it’s good to provide training for employees and managers in the spring to warn about summer hazards to prepare for the heat.
Well, that’s it for this episode. Come back for more tips and techniques on how to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, sponsored by Creative Safety Supply. See the website at creativesafetysupply.com