If you live in Ohio, then you are all too familiar with its crazy weather patterns! Although it may seem like summer made a delayed appearance this year, you can be sure that we haven’t seen the last of 2015’s climbing temperatures and stifling humidity. Whatever the season brings, safety remains our field team’s top priority. Our associates are working against the elements year-round – and even though we may not be battling the ice and snow, high temperatures and humidity bring their own safety concerns. Here are a few things to keep in mind when working in the heat to help you stay cool in the summer:
- The trigger for implementing safety precautions starts around 85 degrees (F) with a 30% humidity level up to 95 degrees (F) and humidity level at 60%. This range would be considered the “moderate level.” The danger zone is 95 degrees (F) with 60% humidity up to 100 degrees (F) and a humidity level of 70%.
- The most important thing to look out for is heat illness. The combination of high temperatures, high humidity, and physical work create potential for heat illness, and it can happen to anyone. The most severe heat-induced illnesses are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion can quickly progress to a heat stroke and possible death if proper measures and awareness are not in place.
- A few symptoms of heat exhaustion are headaches, dizziness, vomiting, clammy skin, and fainting. Heat stroke symptoms are slightly different; they include dry and hot skin, high pulse rate, headache, nausea and vomiting, flushed skin, rapid breathing, and altered mental state or behavior. Make sure you and your team know the difference between the symptoms so you can treat them accordingly.
- If someone you know is showing symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, act immediately! Move the person to a shaded area to rest, loosen/remove heavy clothing, and hydrate. Then attempt to cool them by any means – water hose, ice, fans, or by applying wet towels to the person’s head, neck, armpits, and groin. If the person does not show signs of improvement within minutes, call 911.
- You should always perform the most laborious work for your project during the coolest part of the day in order to prevent heat illness. Work in pairs (buddy system), hydrate 24/7, take frequent breaks in cool, shaded areas, avoid eating large meals prior to working in hot environments, and avoid alcohol, caffeine, and diuretics.
- It’s important to raise awareness through training and toolbox talks. Make sure your team understands the risks of heat-related illnesses and how to prevent them.
- Thomas & Marker’s Safety Manager uses OSHA’s heat app which shows temperatures and humidity levels and will send out notifications if the “moderate risk” level is present. You can download the heat app too to keep an eye on the risk level any day of the week.
Whether you’re hard at work in the field or relaxing in the sun on the weekend, know the signs of heat exhaustion and take precautions.