As intense heat and humidity continue to ramp up over the summer months, so do the temperatures on production and manufacturing floors. It is essential that team managers and employees know how to prevent heat-related illnesses and/or injuries and support the physical wellbeing of themselves and others.
At AdvantaStaff, the safety of our employees is integral to everything we do. With over 20 years of experience in light industrial staffing in central Virginia, we understand the dangers that can arise when temperatures rise. While we provide training, have regular safety reviews, and conduct on-site safety assessments, safety is everyone’s responsibility. This summer, make sure to keep these 5 helpful tips in mind to ensure that you and/or employees stay protected in extreme temperatures.
- Recognize the Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses
While the preventative measures below work to reduce the likelihood of heat-related illnesses and/or injuries, it is important to recognize the symptoms of heat strokes, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rashes.
According to OSHA, heatstroke is the most serious heat-related health problem. The symptoms of heatstroke include confusion, seizures, slurred speech, loss of coordination, and extremely high bodily temperatures. If you recognize the signs of heatstroke in you or someone else, immediately seek medical help and call 911.
Heat exhaustion is a result of extreme sweating, which causes the body to rapidly lose water and salt. Dizziness, nausea, headaches, and excessive sweating are all symptoms of heat exhaustion. In the case of heat exhaustion, provide cold towels for the person’s head and face, have them drink water and rest, and seek medical help if symptoms intensify.
The loss of water and salt in one’s body can also cause heat cramps. When someone has muscle cramps or experiences spasms in their arms or legs, stop their physical activity and have them rest. Ensure they have water or a liquid with electrolytes and a snack.
Heat rashes are groups of small blisters on the skin caused by skin irritation due to intense sweating. If someone experiences heat rashes, move them to a cool, dry location. Avoid using ointments or creams, but powder can be used to increase comfort.
Learn more about the top types of heat-related illnesses and how to treat them on the CDC website.
- Stay Hydrated
Proper hydration is critical to remaining safe in the summer heat. The fluids we lose from sweating in high temperatures can cause us to easily become dehydrated, thereby possibly facing symptoms of heat-related illnesses. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends drinking at least one cup of water every 20 minutes while working in hot temperatures, even if you are not thirsty. If possible, bring your own portable, reusable water bottle with you to work.
Cool water in the form of water-refilling stations or individual water bottles along with reminders to drink water on a regular basis can help employees stay hydrated. When working for longer periods of time, consider consuming fluids that contain electrolytes. Strenuous movement can lead to dehydration through a loss of electrolytes (such as sodium), so replenishing these electrolytes is an additional preventive measure to help stay safe when working in the summer heat.
- Wear Lightweight Clothes
While certain clothing is essential for industrial job safety, specific fabrics can trap moisture and heat against your skin. High levels of physical exertion can easily lead to overheating, so try to dress in loose, lightweight clothing if possible.
If protective heavy gear is required for safety purposes, set strict time limits on the duration for which the gear should be worn. Maintain a close watch for signs of heatstroke as well, as heavy clothing prohibits the body’s ability to cool itself down by not allowing sweat to easily evaporate, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Spot Overheating Equipment
When equipment such as a forklift overheats, the result could be long-term damage leading to an expensive replacement. Ensure that you have routine equipment checks, and that staff can recognize the signs of overheating equipment.
Also, be careful when touching hot metal surfaces, especially when working outside or when handling objects near sources of heat. Heat-proof gloves are one way to prevent thermal burns that come from touching overheated objects.
- Take Advantage of Breaks
When it is time for allotted breaks, take advantage of them. Resting allows one’s internal body heat and heart rate to lower, cooling your body down. Find a cool place in the shade to sit, re-hydrate, and eat a light snack if possible.
It is essential that employees do not skip their breaks during hot, summer days. Customers should provide cool, shaded locations for staff to rest, and supply fans, air condition, and misting devices if available. Consider implementing shorter work periods or enacting a consistent rest and work cycle for employees to follow.
At AdvantaStaff, we believe that people are our most important resource. While practicing the tips above can help workers to stay safe in high temperatures, it is important to always remain alert. Look out for yourself and others, and together we can create a safe work environment in manufacturing environments this summer.
If you’re an AdvantaStaff employee and have questions or concerns about heat safety in your workplace, please contact account manager, Rami Shabazz, or operations coordinator, Becky Hendricks. Customers should always feel free to reach out to our client services manager, JT Wauford, for more information about how we keep our employees safe and steps they can help take to maintain workplace safety in the summer months.