Summer is just around the corner and with the warm days here are a few reminders.
A reminder for those with Confined Spaces at your plant.
- 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.
If you plan to have the Fire Department respond to your plant to assist in case of a confined space emergency you are required to provide the Fire Department the opportunity to practice rescues from each different “TYPE” of space. I also encourage you to document this communication and visit if and when it occurs. You may be told that your local Fire Department doesn’t conduct confined space rescue. In those cases contact the “Mutual Aid” provider that does and make the offer directly to them.
Summer is a great time to delegate the safety committee with evaluating, annual program reviews. If your safety program doesn’t specify a schedule of when mandatory annual reviews are performed of specific health and safety programs… this can be delegated as a safety committee task. Programs that require annual or regular review and evaluation include: Bloodborne Pathogens, Permit Required Confined Space, Lock-out/Tag-out, and Respiratory Protection.
Also be aware that your Hearing Conservation Program requires review when a standard threshold shift occurs and if you use the third party audit system allowed in lieu of audiograms for short-term employees.
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