How Hot is Too Hot?

We all know how unforgiving the southern heat can sometimes be, but do we all know how to protect ourselves and employees?  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a warning on Friday to remind employers to protect their personnel.

Previously employers did not have to report heat related illnesses unless they were fatal or were detrimental to everyday functionality.  Now, however, employers are required to notify OSHA of any inpatient hospitalization.

How to protect your employees from heat related illnesses. The key factor in keeping your employees safe is education and communication.  You and your employees should have a clear understanding of what is expected from both parties to keep everyone protected.  Make sure your employees take time to hydrate and rest… and make sure you allow them the time to hydrate and rest.  Remember, it is more beneficial to keep your employee healthy and able to work than to push it too far.  Here are some tips on how to protect against the heat.

According to OSHA:

  • Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty.
  • Rest in the shade to cool down.
  • Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
  • Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.
  • Keep an eye on fellow workers.
  • “Easy does it” on your first days of work in the heat. You need to get used to it.

What are the different types of heat related illnesses?
Heat related illness can range from a heat rash or heat cramps to the more severe, and sometimes deadly heat exhaustion and heat stroke. What are the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and what should you do?

According to the Centers for Disease Control:
Heat exhaustion

  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Fainting

What You Should Do

  • Move to a cooler location
  • Lie down and loosen your clothing
  • Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible
  • Sip water
  • If you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention immediately

Heat Stroke – 

  • High body temperature (above 103 F)
  • Hot, red, dry or moist skin
  • Rapid and strong pulse
  • Possible unconsciousness

What You Should Do

  • Call 911 IMMEDIATELY – this is a medical emergency
  • Move the person to a cooler environment
  • Reduce the person’s body temperature with cool clothes or even a bath
  • DO NOT give fluids

Remember to rest often, stay hydrated and cool off in the shade as much as possible.  Everyone benefits when everyone is healthy and safe!

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