Most businesses take employee safety seriously. Injury and illness lead to lost productivity and have a direct impact on the bottom line.
As the seasons change, however, so do the risks, your team faces. If you have a team working outdoors in the summer heat, here are the top ten risks to watch out for – so your team can stay healthy and productive all summer long.
Sunburns range from mild redness to peeling, painful skin. Any amount of sunburn damage raises the risk of skin cancer. Ensure workers have adequate clothing and sunblock, as well as time out of the sun.
The sun isn’t the only source of burns in summer. Overheated pavement, metal, and tools can also cause burns. Make sure workers have hand protection. Items that can heat to dangerous temperatures in the sun should also be protected.
Dehydration is a constant risk when workers work in high temperatures. Require regular water breaks, and ensure workers have a supply of fresh water readily available.
Heat illness comes in many forms. Heat cramps are an early sign of heat illness that can quickly turn severe. Prevent heat cramps and heat illness by giving workers shelter from the heat and requiring regular rest breaks. Replacing lost electrolytes from sweat can help combat heat cramps.
Another symptom of heat related illness, is heat rash appears as prickly red bumps on the skin. Workers with heat rash should move to a cooler location and drink plenty of water.
Heat edema presents as swelling in the ankles, feet, or hands. It often accompanies other symptoms of heat stress, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke, and it should be treated in a similar manner.
Heat stress is a common form of heat illness for workers who regularly work in hot conditions. Firefighters, miners, construction workers, and agricultural workers are at high risk for heat stress. Heat stress can lead to heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
As heat illness progresses, it may become heat exhaustion. The body temperature may reach 104 degrees. Dizziness, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, severe sweating, and clammy skin are all signs of heat exhaustion. If a worker shows these symptoms, remove them from the heat and cool them down with water or ice at once.
If left untreated, heat exhaustion becomes heatstroke. The body temperature exceeds 104 degrees. Dizziness, a weak or fast heartbeat, abnormal thinking or behavior, slurred speech, seizures, and unconsciousness all indicate heatstroke. Call 911 immediately and cool the worker with water or ice. Stay with the worker until help arrives.
Just as hot weather can cause the human body to malfunction, it can also cause malfunctions and breakdowns in equipment. These malfunctions may also cause injuries. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for equipment use and temperature tolerances, and institute procedures for checking temperatures before equipment is used.
The summer sun doesn’t just impose more heat. It can also cause glare and other visibility issues. Make sure workers have adequate eye protection and plan work to reduce the dangers of glare and reflections.
It’s important to keep your team safe as the seasons change. In addition to addressing seasonal risks, it’s also wise to review your insurance coverage. The right coverage ensures that you and your team are protected if a loss occurs. Contact Odell Studner today to learn more.