Summer is just around the corner and with the warm days… here are a few reminders:
- Heat stress is a very real threat. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are all possibilities for workers exposed to warm weather, humid conditions and/or moderate to strenuous work. Keep in mind that physically fit workers take five to seven day to acclimatize to warm weather. Workers returning back to work after only a week to 10 days off work can have lost significant acclimatization to hot temperatures. Workers should be encouraged to drink plenty of fluids, wear light colored, loose fitting clothing and to pace themselves during the first week of hot weather. Workers can greatly minimize their susceptibility to heat related illnesses by: being physically fit, eating light meals with moderate amounts of salt (avoid salt tablets), and eating fresh foods high in potassium (oranges, bananas, cooked spinach, and baked potato). Workers should also avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol and review side effects of any prescription medications. Keep those water coolers full with lots of disposable cups available. If you provide a sports drink dilute it by three or four times the amount of suggested water. Remind workers to buddy up when working in remote work locations. Provide awareness level training to workers allowing them to recognize signs and symptoms of heat stress (cramping, profuse sweating, high heart rate, head ache, nausea, incoherent or unusual behavior).
Workers who are demonstrating symptoms of heat stress need to be removed from work tasks and taken to a shaded area, cooled down and given fluids and allowed to rest.
If a worker becomes incoherent, delirious, is sweating or not: they need to be cooled down immediately and taken in for emergency medical evaluation.
Heat stroke is a killer and just doesn’t “happen”! It builds over a period of time and the final onset of life threatening symptoms can be very quick. Remember heat stroke has a fatality incidence of roughly 20%. Trained personnel can be alerted to the very first symptoms of heat related illnesses if they are provided some rudimentary awareness training.
- The warm weather is also likely to bring bees, wasps and hornets back to the jobsite. Encourage your workers to let you know if they are allergic to bee stings. Anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock is potentially life threatening. Workers’ personal physicians will be willing to provide allergic individuals a prescription “EpiPen®” that allows the worker to self-administer a dose of epinephrine.
- Last reminder for those contractors on projects lasting a week or more: the fire department and aid providers are very interested in providing your workers the very fastest response. A proactive telephone call will often quickly bring the on-duty fire company from the local fire department down for a quick walk through of your jobsite. Identify the best locations for bringing fire apparatus and aid units onto the jobsite. Provide large easily read street addresses and other necessary signs to direct these first responders to the prearranged locations on your jobsite. Remember that other aid providers may respond during an emergency and ask what directions those responders could be coming from.
If you can’t bring the responders onto the jobsite or location of the patient, then develop and implement a plan with your first responders specific to how emergency responders are going to access a patient.
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Fixed Industry Program Review