4 Steps to protect workers in the heat

We all talk about sending our workers home the same way they arrived. But teaching your workers the ins-and-outs of heat illness prevention won’t just send them home safe, it has the potential to send them home even better than they arrived!

As soon as your workers step into a hot environment, their bodies start to build-up heat stress. If they don’t understand the real dangers of heat illness, a normal workday can quickly become a life-threatening situation. But with a little education and the right equipment, they’ll be cool and hydrated, understand the risks, and know what to look for in their environment, their fellow workers, and even their own family and community.

1. Promote Recognizing Heat Illness

When your workers know the signs and symptoms of heat illness, they’ll be able to confidently recognize and point out potential risks on the jobsite. You can help inform them through:

  • Safety training presentations
  • Reminder posters
  • Fun safety videos

Whether they see someone dealing with heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or even a more dangerous heat illness, they can use their knowledge to keep themselves and each other safe throughout the workday. This can even pay off in the bonus of making everyone more connected as a team!

2. PREPARE FOR THE HEAT: Emphasize around-the-clock hydration and cooling

Explain to your workers that hydration is a constant process, not a single event. A knowledgeable worker understands that they need to drink cool water or electrolyte-replacing beverages throughout the day instead of just when they’re thirsty. Emphasize the need to hydrate well:

  • Before work
  • Consistently during work while taking regular breaks in a shaded area

After work to replenish any lost fluids, salts, or electrolytes

3. COME EQUIPPED: Teach them the value of safety equipment

Show your workers the heat measurement equipment that you use each day to teach them about heat awareness. Explain that your wet bulb globe temperature monitor measures the air temperature, humidity, wind, and heat from the sun to give a detailed reading of your jobsite’s microclimate. Sharing your monitor readings will help you explain to your workers how microclimates and certain areas of the jobsite are hotter than others so they will know to take extra precautions in similar situations.

Explain the importance of cooling PPE and that hydration alone is not enough to prevent heat illness in very hot conditions. Provide them with the latest cooling PPE technology in towels, neck gaiters, and bandanas that activate instantly and make it easy to lower their skin temperature.

4. UNDERSTAND THE CONSEQUENCES: Teach them the short and long term effects of heat illness

All too often, workers brush off hot conditions and decide they can tough it out. Be sure to highlight specific lessons and statistics to remind them of the potential consequences of heat illnesses. For example, many people don’t know that heat stroke can permanently damage organs and lower a worker’s heat tolerance in the future. Emphasize that losing the ability to tolerate hot conditions may mean they’ll have to radically alter their work and home life and may even lead to disability.