Time to Beat the Heat

As I write this, it is hot outside. I’m talking 95 degrees. Looking at the national weather map, more than 76 million people are under some level of heat alert right now. About 150 million people are expected to experience temperatures above 90 degrees F. The Southwest portion of the country is a literal oven.

Writing and editing from the relative comfort of my basement home office allows me, fortunately, to avoid all of the issues that aggregates workers face when working outside. But let’s look at those issues.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), workers at risk of heat stress include workers in hot environments such as firefighters, bakery workers, farmers, construction workers, miners, boiler room workers, factory workers and others.

Prevention of heat stress in workers is important. Employers should provide training to workers so they understand what heat stress is, how it affects their health and safety, and how it can be prevented.

Workers at greater risk of heat stress include those who are 65 years of age or older, are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure, or take medications that may be affected by extreme heat.

The experts recommend the following to avoid heat illness:

  • Increase the amount of fluids you drink, but avoid alcohol, caffeine and overly sugary drinks; if you are involved in heavy activity, experts recommend drinking 2 to 4 glasses of cool fluids each hour.
  • If you will be working in the sun, be sure to use a sunscreen rated at SPF 15 or higher. Wear light, loose-fitting clothes.
  • Employers should have a system of breaks and rotation work. Cool areas, preferably an air conditioned one, should be made available for anyone who needs to escape the heat.
  • Workers wearing protective gear that includes tight-fitting clothes that do not breathe should be on a shorter rotation and have extra breaks to keep cool, as they are at higher risk.
  • For new workers or workers returning after one week or more out of the conditions, a graduated system should be used to get them acclimated to the heat.
  • When looking at a weather forecast to predict conditions, use the heat index instead of just the temperature.

Stay safe out there.

Mark Kuhar, Editor

Mark S. Kuhar, editor
[email protected]
(330) 722‐4081
Twitter: @editormarkkuhar

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