Each year, more than 650 people succumb to a heat-related illness. According to the Center for Disease Control, heat-related illnesses are one of the deadliest weather-related health outcomes affecting Americans. However, the most devastating part of this equation is that all deaths from heat-related illnesses are preventable with the proper training and safety tools.
Learn here how to keep yourself and others safe while working in the heat.
Use Signage to Refresh Employees on Heat-Related Illnesses
Using signage like this Heat Stress Safety Poster can help keep heat safety at the forefront of an employee’s mind. Place posters and other visual aids in high-traffic areas like break rooms, offices, and workshops. In addition, include signage in areas where heat-related illnesses are more likely to occur.
Recognize Those Most at Risk for Heat Stress
Certain people are at a greater risk for heat-related illness. Learning to identify them can help prevent many tragedies from occurring. People who are at greater risk include:
Anyone over age 65 or under age five
People with autoimmune disease, heart disease, or breathing problems
Those who are overweight
People taking certain medications
Anyone who drinks heavily
Those exposed to high heat for extended periods
People recovering from illnesses
Know the Precautions to Take
A comprehensive overview of precautions to take during heat waves and inside high-temperature areas is crucial to your training efforts. The best heat stress training courses will include this information. To stay safe in high-heat environments, you should:
Wear loose, lightweight clothing
Drink plenty of water
Avoid dehydration beverages (like alcohol, coffee, or energy drinks)
Take frequent breaks in cooler areas (preferably in air conditioning)
Apply sunscreen when working outdoors
Use a buddy system, so nobody works in the heat alone
Try to avoid working during the hottest parts of the day, if possible
Avoid hot and heavy meals that can raise your internal body temperature
Use sports drinks to replace electrolytes lost when sweating
Companies should keep a close eye on the weather during warmer months to be aware of dangerous heat wave events. If possible, people usually working outdoors should stay home during these events. However, if staying home isn’t possible, companies should implement additional precautions like more frequent breaks or shorter work days until the heat wave has passed.
Additional Precautions for Working Around Fire or Electricity
People working around electricity, fire, or flammable materials should undergo additional heat stress and general safety training. Individuals working around these materials are more prone to injury and should be given training on:
You can also find valuable training resources for individual sectors or industries, such as welding. Certain professions have industry-specific training they need to perform their jobs safely and effectively.
What to Do If Someone Is Experiencing Heat Stress
If someone is experiencing heat stress, the most critical thing is to call 9-1-1 right away. While waiting for emergency first responders to arrive, try moving the affected individual to a shady or cool area. Do not dump cold water or offer ice water to drink if someone is experiencing heat stress, as this could cause the body to go into shock.
Companies should include first aid training as part of their onboarding procedures so everyone understands what to do should a heat-related event occur. An excellent education option is this First Aid Safety Training Course Video Kit, which includes segments on:
Basic first aid procedures
Proper handling of bloodborne pathogens
Treating cuts, scrapes, and burns (including chemical burns)
Broken bones and fractures
Heat stress events (including heat exhaustion and stroke)
The National Safety Compliance has the tools and information you need to keep yourself and others safe from heat-related illnesses. For more information, visit our heat stress safety product page. If you need help assessing your safety training needs or have questions, fill out our online contact form, and we’ll be in touch as soon as possible.