June seems to be off to a very hot start for St. Louis. For Employers with Employees exposed to heat (outside construction projects, warm warehouses, etc.), it is a good time to discuss and routinely remind about the dangers of heat stress to Employees.
Keep in mind:
- Tolerance for heat can vary greatly from person to person
- Dehydration is the primary cause of heat related illness (cramps, exhaustion, stroke) since vast quantities of sweat must be produced to cool the body
- Light-colored, lightweight, loose-fitting (*see important note below) clothing, and long-sleeved shirts (to provide protection from the Sun's rays)
- Since Hydration is key, a good idea would be to provide all employees with a couple of 1/2 gallon jugs (as pictured above), and make certain they show up to their shift with them filled with ice water and consume throughout the day. The hooks on the one above are nice because the jugs can be hung up and not present a tripping hazard.
Speaking economically, this may come off as cold since the compassionate element is removed (e.g. an Employer's concern about their employee's well-being) but the few dollars spent to provide a couple jugs for all employees, may help avoid a significant Work Comp claim which "lives" on an Employer's Experience Mod Rating for 3 years.
- An Employer will have no control over this, but employees should be aware that adequate sleep and avoiding heavy alcohol consumption the night before work will also help avoid heat illness.
- Discuss symptoms (see below) with employees, so that they can be aware of them for themselves and can help identify in their co-workers.
*Loose-fitting clothing should not be worn where machine entanglement injuries can occur (e.g factory equipment) - these injuries can be deadly.
If Symptoms of heat exhaustion develop:
If an employee experiences any major symptoms of heat stress (weakness, dizziness, nausea) they should:
- Immediately report to a supervisor and get to a cooler area of the work site
- If an employee becomes confused, loses consciousness, has dry skin, get them to a cooler area and Call 911 immediately!
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