How to Keep your Staff Safe during the Summer Heat
Each Summer as temperatures rise and heat indexes creep into triple digits, workplace injuries due to heat exposure rise with the temperatures. Not preparing your staff for these risks can cause unnecessary workers compensation claims to occur. When too many claims occur during one year or if one of the claims is severe, it can have a negative impact on the businesses loss cost ratio. The loss cost ratio is a large factor in what the experience modification rating of a business is. The experience modification rating of a business is the primary measurement an insurance carrier uses to determine if they are going to offer a business coverage. If the carrier does decide to offer coverage, the experience mod is the main factor used to decide what to charge for that coverage. Because of these factors, it is important for businesses to prepare for heat related illnesses among their staff.
Most heat related stress for a business coincides with Hurricane Season in many parts of the country. These means the business should prepare for the elements well in advance of the Summer Heat. In addition, your business and your employees need to learn how to deal with heat related illness. Learning to deal with Summer Heat related illness is crucial to the success of a business. OSHA has released a campaign titled Water. Rest. Shade designed to protect workers from the ravages of heat. This campaign launched in 2011 and is meant to educate business leaders and workers about the dangers of working in the hot temperatures. OSHA has expanded this program over the years to include training sessions, outreach events, informational sessions, publications, social media messaging and media appearances. Regardless of whether a business subscribes to OSHA’s plan or another version of heat related weather planning, It is important to deal with the Summer Heat before it deals your business a blow the business cannot withstand.
Tips to Prepare Staff for the Summer Heat
Learn the Signs of Summer Heat Illness
In 2017, 87 people died in the U.S. from exposure to excessive heat According to Injury Facts a division of the National Safety Council. Because of this death toll, it is crucial to first learn the signs of heat illness. It is always best to act early before an employee is sick than to wait until the employee is dealing with heat exhaustion and heat stroke. It is important to know the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion usually occurs when a person has a consistent body temperature of 102 or lower. When experiencing heat exhaustion, a person will be dealing with excessive sweat, dehydration, and maybe even dizziness. When the body temperature is sustained at 103 or higher a person has moved in to a state of heat stroke. People experiencing a heat stroke will begin to show signs of cool clammy skin, muscle aches, heavy sweating, and a slow heartbeat. Both heat exhaustion and heat stroke should be taken seriously, but a worker experiencing heat stroke needs medical attention fairly quickly.
Monitor Fellow Employees
It is a good idea to keep an eye on fellow workers when the temperatures creep up into the 90’s. Even in the mid to high 80’s a person can start to see the signs of heat exhaustion depending upon their body and the weather their body is accustomed to. Training workers about the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and how to prevent them is a good idea to keep your staff involved in looking out for each other.
Gradually Get Used to the Heat
Depending upon where a business is located, the temperatures will warm at different times. When the first heat wave of the year comes through your area, it is important to help your employees gradually get used to working in the heat. It is best to gradually increase workloads and allow for more frequent breaks as the bodies of your employees adjust to the new warmer temperatures.
Drink Water Frequently
Drinking water frequently is a crucial step to keeping all people healthy while dealing with Summer Heat. Coffee, tea, and soft drinks are not good substitutes for water. Caffeine is included in most of these beverages, and caffeine can dehydrate an individual. If your employees need something with additional flavor, it is important to offer or recommend something with a lot of electrolytes. Beverages with little to no sugar are best. All employees should be drinking something a few times an hour and a minimum of 64 ounces throughout the day. During the hottest Summer Months, much more than 64 ounces is best.
Wear Proper Clothing
Talking with your employees about the best way to prepare for the elements is a good way to encourage your staff to wear the proper attire. If you can afford it, providing some or all of their clothing is ideal. Even providing and requiring them to wear a hat and a light colored shirt can go a long way towards keeping them healthy.