Every year, dozens of workers die and thousands more become ill while working in extreme heat or humid conditions. More than 40 percent of heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry, but workers in every field are susceptible. There are a range of heat illnesses and they can affect anyone, regardless of age or physical condition.
Reducing the Risk
The risk of heat-related illness and injury is reduced by the three fundamentals of OSHA's Heat Illness Prevention campaign: Water, Rest, and Shade. Hydration and electrolyte replacement has been covered in this blog, and rest needs no explanation. Tents and shade canopies are engineering controls that can be used to reduce the incidence of heat-related illnesses by providing workers with a place to rest or perform some work activities away from direct sunlight.
Things to Remember:
The location and area of the shade provided by tents and canopies will vary throughout the day with the position of the sun.
Tents and canopies will provide the largest shaded area when the sun is directly overhead.
To ensure sufficient shaded area, employers should consider purchasing larger canopies and adding walls to canopies.
goSafe has a variety of portable tents and accessories that are ideal for creating a shaded area on your job site.
As If the heat weren't bad enough...
Dealing with heat and humidity is compounded by the presence of mosquitos - a situation almost guaranteed when working outdoors on the Gulf Coast in the summer months. Aside from the nuisance factor, mosquitos have the potential to be very dangerous. Mosquito-borne diseases are those spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Diseases that are spread to people by mosquitoes include Zika virus, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, dengue, and malaria.
Employers should protect workers and workers should protect themselves from diseases spread by mosquitoes. Although people may not become sick after a bite from an infected mosquito, some people have a mild, short-term illness or (rarely) severe or long-term illness. Severe cases of mosquito-borne diseases can cause death.
More than 40 percent of heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry, but workers in every field are susceptible."
Risk to workers can be mitigated by the following:
Wear clothing that covers hands, arms, legs, and other exposed skin. Wear hats with mosquito netting to protect the face and neck.
Remove standing water (for example, tires, buckets, barrels) to reduce places where mosquitoes lay eggs.
Workers who develop symptoms of a mosquito-borne disease should report this promptly to their supervisor and get medical attention.
Stay in the Green Zone!
Workers need to be aware of their surroundings, and be proactive about reducing the risk not only to themselves, but to everyone on-site by following the above recommendations. Whatever's bugging you, goSafe has you covered with a wide assortment of protection from insects for skin, clothing and gear.
For an interactive look at how to handle Heat Stress and related issues, visit the Heat Stress section of the goSafe Hazard School. In addition, the Heat Stress section in the goSafe Expert Zone contains downloadable SOP's, Inspection forms, and on-site posters related to Heat Stress and HRI's - all available at no cost to you.