Heat safety issues are challenges in many American agricultural, industrial and construction workplaces. Safety professionals, managers and business owners should be aware of potential heat hazards in their workplaces and keep workers safe. An effective workplace heat safety program should include a strong focus upon employee training and monitoring of conditions to identify and address potential hazards.
OSHA makes active efforts to target heat safety in the workplace through education, inspection and enforcement, including a program aimed at educating and protecting outdoor workers.
Location isn’t always a good way to guess where heat safety is a challenge. While this recent OSHA citation for not having a heat safety program in Houston, Texas might not seem surprising, OSHA has also levied recent fines against companies beyond the Sun Belt states, including a moving company and automotive manufacturing plant in Nebraska and a construction company in Pennsylvania. In these cases, penalties sought by OSHA ranged from $3,700 to $13,800 – all of which could have been avoided with an effective heat safety program.
There are four kinds of heat illness: heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. All result from the human body reacting to heat. Increased physical activity increases the potential for heat illness, with heat stroke being the most critical. It is crucial to know the signs of heat illness and how to respond – as well as respond quickly.
First Aid courses offered by the American Red Cross teach how to recognize signs of heat illness as well as how to respond. Over a quarter of Filters Fast employees have certifications in both CPR and First Aid, giving them the knowledge to keep safe, watch out for others – both on and off the job, and respond to signs of heat-related emergencies. These courses are not difficult, take just a few hours and are relatively affordable, so we strongly recommend signing up for one.
You can sign up for a class with your local Red Cross chapter: http://www.redcross.org/find-your-local-chapter
As OSHA has no specific standards regarding heat safety, employers are obligated to follow the OSHA “General Duty Clause”, which obligates employers to act to protect workers from all known hazards, which includes heat exposure:
“Each employer … shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees”
Even without specific OSHA regulations regarding heat safety, employers are always responsible for identifying and responding to heat hazards. This includes empowering employees to act, as well as monitoring working conditions to identify potential heat hazards.
Heat should take into account the role played by humidity, not just air temperature alone. The Heat Index is a more accurate measure of the level of stress placed upon the body than just air temperatures and should be watched closely. OHSA provides a very useful guide on heat and its impact upon workers.
To help monitor conditions and better plan work activities in workplaces, as well as home and anywhere else exposure to heat might be a concern, Filters Fast sells a number of quality devices which track and record heat and humidity. We even use them to monitor heat and humidity our own workplaces, so you know we believe in their reliability.
See our line of heat and humidity monitoring equipment.
Filters Fast has an in-house Safety Manager with over 15 years’ experience working in construction and industrial environments in southern U.S. states, including plenty of experience with heat safety issues. Feel free to leave any questions in the comments and he will be glad to respond.