Keep Employees Safe On The Hottest Day Of The Year
It’s important for employers to know how to keep employees safe in the heat. Heat-related illnesses can be deadly. Overexposure to heat can lead to heat stroke and heart disease, and it can worsen existing health conditions. Excessive heat exposure can also affect employees’ productivity. A single degree of heat exposure can reduce productivity by one to three percent. In addition, working conditions that are too hot or cold can lead to higher employee turnover.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently announced a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) to address heat-related hazards in the workplace. The NEP outlines several prevention strategies, including rest, cool water, and cool areas. Additionally, OSHA is focusing on early intervention and outreach to educate employers about the hazards and how to protect their employees from heat-related illnesses. By following these steps, employers can help keep employees safe during record-breaking temperatures.
As temperatures continue to rise, heat-related illnesses and deaths are becoming more prevalent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of deaths and illnesses in the workplace due to heat exposure is more than doubled since the early 1990s. This has led OSHA to announce a new heat-related workplace inspection program, which is expected to prevent heat-related illnesses.
Employers must also provide shade and plenty of water during hot periods of the day. Employees should also take regular breaks to hydrate themselves. A water cooler in a shaded area is an excellent option. If your employees work indoors, make sure your air conditioning units and fans are working. Remember to wear the appropriate safety equipment.
Oregon OSHA has also adopted final rules on heat illness and wildfire smoke. These rules are expected to go into effect on June 15, 2022. Federal OSHA is likely to look to Oregon OSHA for guidance on federal heat rules. As an example, the Oregon OSHA’s final rule requires employers to provide proper protection for employees in hot environments, whether they are indoors or outdoors.
While OSHA has existing standards for heat-related illnesses and injuries, those standards do not fully protect workers. In addition, OSHA requires employers to record all injuries, and illnesses, but not all of them need medical attention. This includes hydration, which is considered first aid and not a recordable injury.
The most common heat-related illness is heat stroke, which can be fatal if not treated. Heat stroke is caused by a breakdown in the body’s temperature regulation mechanisms. Its symptoms include high body temperature, lack of sweat, and hot, dry skin. If left untreated, heat stroke can lead to unconsciousness, convulsions, and death.
Heat stress is a significant issue in the workplace, and workers need to be protected. Fortunately, laws have been passed in several states to make the workplace safer for employees. For example, California and Minnesota have already enacted heat stress regulations, and Washington has passed House Bill 722. These new laws will force employers to protect their employees from heat stress.
Whether your workplace is in the heat or the cold, it is important to keep employees safe from heat-related illnesses. The key is to educate your workers about the signs of heat-related illnesses. They should be educated and encouraged to rest, drink water, and find shade, if necessary. If they do experience symptoms, they should seek medical attention immediately.
OSHA recommends that employers implement a heat illness prevention program. Sadly, nearly 80 percent of heat-related illnesses occur in employers who don’t implement preventive measures. Your program should be tailored to your site and your employees’ job duties. In addition, it should be supported by management.
Occupational heat exposure is a major health concern for millions of U.S. workers, and it can be preventable. Occupational heat illness can lead to death or permanent disability. In fact, most heat-related illnesses occur within the first few days of working in a hot environment. Occupational heat exposure accounts for 50 percent to 70 percent of fatalities. Despite the severity of the issue, it’s easy to reduce the risk of occupational heat illnesses and keep employees comfortable.
The questionnaires are meant to collect information on how employers are protecting their employees from heat-related illnesses. They also aim to assess the effectiveness of heat-related prevention programs. Some questions may require employers to provide examples of their own programs and how they protect workers.