With record-setting high temperatures occurring around the U.S. this summer (and potentially the next few future summers), workplaces are beginning to struggle with keeping their employees cool.
Heat in the United States is deadly, with heat fatalities being the estimated direct cause of death of more than 1300 Americans a year, and with extreme heat also contributing to an unknown amount of cardiovascular, respiratory, and stress related deaths according to a study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency.
It’s safe to say that this summer workplaces need to begin to implement heat protection strategies for their workers to prevent heat related injuries. This weak we wanted to look at some of the more common signs of heat related injuries in the workplace, and how to better protect both indoor and outdoor employees from the heat this summer.
Signs and Symptoms of the Heat
Knowing what symptoms to look for when your employees are working in the heat is a good start to preventing and treating workplace heat injuries. Be on the lookout for these symptoms of heat illness this summer:
Follow these tips to prevent heat illness when you do see the above symptoms in your employees:
Outdoor workers are the most likely employees to be affected by extreme heat conditions. Water, rest and shade are the three key elements to preventing heat illness in employees who work outdoors according to OSHA:
Just because some employees work in the office doesn’t mean they are exempt from feeling the effects of the heat. Employees who work indoors aren’t usually acclimated to the heat like outdoor workers, so when they do get exposed to extreme heat (like the AC breaking down, or even short walks in the parking lot) it can be fatal.
Using the above first aid techniques and following similar guidelines from the outdoor section are key ways to keep indoor employees safe too. Be sure to set the thermostat in your office to a comfortable temperature and monitor humidity levels. OSHA recommends temperature control in the range of 68-76 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity control in the range of 20-60 percent.