Working Safely in Heat Environments
This time of year, heat-related risks are one of the main safety issues a company must plan for. Millions of U.S. workers are exposed to heat in their workplaces. Although illness from exposure to heat is preventable, every year thousands become sick from occupational heat exposure, and some cases are fatal. With outdoor fatalities, 50% to 70% occur in the first few days of working in warm or hot environments because the body needs to build a tolerance to the heat gradually over time. The process of building tolerance is called heat acclimatization. Lack of acclimatization represents a major risk factor for fatal outcomes.
Heat Terms To Be Aware Of
Extreme heat is the most dangerous type of severe-weather event in the U.S., so ensuring you know the types of heat notifications and actions associated with them is important for preparation and safety. When listening to local or national weather forecasters, you may hear these terms when a heat wave is predicted:
Excessive Heat Outlook – An excessive heat outlook is issued when the potential exists for an excessive heat event in the next 3- 7 days. BE AWARE!
Excessive Heat Watch – A heat watch is issued when conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event in the next 24 to 72 hours. BE PREPARED!
Excessive Heat Warning/Advisory – An excessive heat warning or a heat advisory is issued within 12 hours of the onset of extremely dangerous heat conditions. Take precautions immediately to avoid heat-related illness. TAKE ACTION!
At Faith Technologies, we work to ensure our job site crews prepare for working in heat environments through our daily safety operational risk management (ORM) sessions. We also follow the guidelines provided by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) to prevent heat-related illness:
- Take time to acclimatize
- Stay well hydrated
- Watch for signs of heat-related illness
- Take time to rest and cool down
Don’t let heat-related safety issues affect your workplace. Plan ahead, monitor conditions, prepare your work teams and continue to support them throughout the workday.