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Heat Hazard: Workplace Do’s and Don’ts

Late spring and early summer bring warmer and warmer temperatures by the day, especially in the desert southwest. In the month of May, nationwide, high temperatures range between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but some cities are notoriously ‘hotter’ and/or more humid than others. Business leaders need to take precautions and understand the workplace Do’s and Don’ts of heat safety.

High temperature + High Humitity + Physical Activity = Heat Illness

If you and your colleagues spend time working outdoors, it’s critical that you all drink plenty of water. In fact, you should promote drinking water, water, and more water!

Other safety DO’s include:

  • Wearing light-weight, loose-fitting, breathable clothing
  • Wearing a hat (or some type of head cover)
  • If possible, scheduling outdoor work during cooler parts of the day (early morning and evening)
  • Taking appropriate breaks, shaded rest periods
  • Letting new, paid staff & volunteers acclimate (starting slowly and working up to normal pace)

Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Signs of Heat Stroke

With Heat Exhaustion:

  • DO Move the victim to a cool, shaded area (DO NOT leave them alone)
  • DO loosen and remove heavy clothing that restricts evaporative cooling
  • DO give them cool water to drink (one cup every 15 minutes)
  • DO fan the victim, spray them with cool water, or apply a wet cloth directly to their skin
  • If there’s no improvement within a few minutes, DO call 911
  • DO protect them from further heat exposure the remainder of the day

With Heatstroke:

  • DO call 911 immediately. This is a medical emergency.
  • DO move the victim to cool, shaded place, and remove clothing that restricts cooling
  • DO cool the victim rapidly using any available method (e.g. a cool shower or bath, a cool garden hose, or a wet towel.
  • DO fan them vigorously until medical help arrives
  • If paramedics are delayed, DO call a hospital emergency room for instruction
  • DO NOT give the person fluids to drink unless you are instructed to by emergency personnel!

REMEMBER: Overexposure to heat can trigger workplace accidents by reducing a person’s physical and mental strength. When heat-related fatigue kicks in, the ability to comprehend and retain information is dramatically reduced.

Focus HR, Inc’s risk safety team can provide work site visits and safety guidance to business owners and operators. To learn more click here.

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