When you work with heavy machinery like forklifts, safety should be top of mind.
And now that it’s officially summer staying safe in the heat is especially important, too.
We hear about the consequences of heat illness daily. The news tells us about someone hospitalized for heat exhaustion and , even worse, we hear about deaths from heat exposure.
And yet it’s easy to keep cool and hydrated in the summer if we know the risks and use a little common sense.
Other than sweltering temperatures, oppressive humidity, and direct sun exposure, several other risk factors can adversely affect a person’s heat tolerance on the job.
- Indoor Heat Sources – Industrial molds, ovens, etc.
- Poor Air Circulation
- Physical Exertion
- Not Drinking Enough Water
- Required Safety Clothes – FRCs or any type of protection equipment
- Not Being Acclimated
- Age – Especially those 65 and over
Beating the heat in the workplace isn’t hard.
You just need to keep a few simple things in mind when you’re working in the heat.
1. Water is Your Best Friend
On average, humans have 2.6 million sweat glands. When our bodies need to cool down our brains activate the sweat glands, cooling us off by evaporation.
When we sweat we lose water and electrolytes and both are necessary to keep us healthy.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends drinking 1 cup of water every 15-20 minutes during moderate exertion.
While you may be tempted to drink sports drinks like Gatorade, it’s often unnecessary.
Eating regular meals and salty snacks usually replaces electrolytes lost during sweating.
2. You Need To Take A Break
When you’re working, your body produces much more heat than normal. Overdoing it can result in your body temperature spiraling out of control.
You should take regular breaks (if possible) in shaded or air-conditioned areas. It also helps if you can schedule work during cooler parts of the day—early morning or evening.
3. Keep An Eye On Yourself
You need to be aware of how you’re feeling. That headache or upset stomach could be the first signs of a heat stroke.
Additional symptoms include:
- Not sweating despite high heat
- Rapid heart beat
- Red, hot, dry skin
- Muscle cramps/Weakness
Most important, if you think you or someone else is having a heat stroke call 911 immediately!
It’s Your Turn
It’s hot out there and you need to take care of yourself.
Be sure to drink plenty of water and stay cool. And if you think a heat stroke has occurred, get help immediately!
Continue The Conversation
We’d love to know how YOU keep cool on the job!
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