It is that time of year in the great state of Texas, when we reach those hot summer months and it’s important to remember to take some extra precautions, especially if working outdoors.
Did you know that between the years of 1992-2016 36% of all heat related deaths were of construction workers, even though they only make up about 6% of the U.S.’ total workforce? Also, about half of heat related deaths happen on a worker’s first day on the job and more than 70% occur during a worker’s first week. Many workers’ compensation claims each year come from these work-related type injuries and/or deaths.
Here are just a few important signs to watch for regarding HRIs (Heat related illnesses):
- Heavy sweating
- Fainting or dizziness
- Rapid heart rate
- Very high body temperature
Some heat related illnesses can be modest like heat cramps and heat rash, but other and harsher ones can be heat exhaustion or heat stroke. It is important for supervisors to be mindful of these for their employees and make sure everyone is staying safe.
Employers should take precautions and create plans to help protect their employees. General preventions should include some of the following:
- Have access to drinking water
- Provide shaded break areas
- Be cautious of weather conditions & heat index
- Wear lightweight & loose-fitting clothing
- Allow employees time for acclimation
- Train supervisors to watch for indications and communicate with their workers.
Keep in mind that HRIs can occur indoors as well. Some indoor industries that should be aware might be bakeries, kitchens and laundries, manufacturing, or warehousing.
While employers need to make it a priority to keep safe work environments, employees should be mindful for themselves and their co-workers too. Remind each other to not overdo it and look out for one another. Heat related illnesses can be common in our summer months, but with the right prevention measures can be easily avoided.