June 4, 2018

Working long hours out in high temperatures can cause the body’s internal temperature to rise, resulting in discomfort, fatigue, and in worse cases severe heat stress or stroke. According to the CDC, extreme heat causes an average of 658 deaths a year in the United States.

Stay Hydrated, Take Rest, and Find Shade

Hydration is vital in beating the heat. When your body doesn’t have enough water, it has nothing to sweat out, and no way of cooling down. Set up water stations on your work site and remind workers they should be taking water breaks throughout the day and after work.

Prevent heat-related incidents by taking rest when needed. OSHA states that “work/rest schedules are often based on 1-hour cycles and might call for a rest period of 15 minutes every hour during hot weather, but 45 minutes per hour when temperature and humidity are extreme”. Keep in mind that each work site can vary greatly. Have your specific rest zones, times, and guidelines set up so workers know exactly when and where to take a break.

If workers are working outside, try to place your workstations in shady areas. If there is no shade in the work area, then inform your workers of where they can find natural shade or set-up tents that workers can use during their rest periods.

In addition, put these preventative measures into practice:

  • Remind workers to drink small amounts of water often, even before they're thirsty
  • Make sure that adequate medical services or someone trained in First Aid are near and available in case of emergency
  • Alert workers to the heat index anticipated for the day and the precautions in place to help avoid heat-related illness
  • Set up a buddy system to encourage workers to be on the lookout for signs or symptoms of heat-related illness in each other
  • Encourage workers to wear sunscreen and use protection from direct sunlight
  • Consider wearing PPE with cooling properties

Wear Proper PPE and Clothing

Proper clothing and PPE for the climate is commonly ignored but can have a major impact on the number of heat-related incidents and how workers perform. Supplying your employees with comfortable, lightweight clothing and gloves can increase work rate, and lower discomfort and moral issues. Evaporative cooling PPE can help lower body temperature, which reduces the likelihood of a heat-related illness.

ColdRush® Products 

ColdRush® cooling products were designed specifically for employees working in hot climates. Fabricated with cooling technology, ColdRush® is a quick-absorbing material which retains moisture and slowly allows it to evaporate, creating a cooling effect on the skin. This technology can lower surface body temperature by up to 20%. With four designs including hard hat inserts, bandanas, du-rags and neck bands, you are sure to find a product to keep your workers cool all day long. ColdRush® products will be available this summer.

For additional warm weather training resources, check out the OSHA website and the CDC website.