The Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) reminds Arizona employers of the hazards associated with working outdoors in high temperatures. As the summer months are here, along with high temperatures, it is important that employers ensure that their employees are aware of the dangers associated with heat-related illnesses, the signs and symptoms associated with such illnesses and steps they can take to prevent them from occurring.
The three main factors for employers and employees to remember are Water, Rest and Shade.
When it comes to water, finding the right amount to drink depends upon a variety of factors including the length and intensity of outside work and other individual differences. But the rule of thumb is that if an employee is outside working in the heat, they should drink at least one 8-ounce cup every 15 minutes during the entire work shift. Employers should provide sufficient cool drinking water for employees and inform employees that they should not wait until they are thirsty to drink water.
Rest and shade are equally as important as staying hydrated. Ensuring that employees are taking adequate breaks, a minimum of five minutes at a time, in a shaded area is key. Depending on how hot it is outside, these breaks should take place every half-hour or every hour. Shade structures can be erected and employees should be encouraged to take breaks, wear appropriate clothing and wear a sun-blocking agent as further protection.
If an employee is having any heat-related symptoms it’s important to get to a cool, shaded area, loosen clothing, and provide cool drinking water. If necessary, call 911, and keep the person as comfortable as possible while waiting for medical assistance to arrive. Symptoms of heat exhaustion (which many wave off as a simple headache or as just being tired or hungry) include headaches, dizziness, weakness, moist skin, mood changes and an upset stomach. The more serious heat stroke causes dry, hot skin with no sweating, mental confusion and seizures or convulsions.
“While knowing the symptoms and how to treat them is important, preventing the situation from occurring is even better,” said Jessie Atencio, assistant director and consultation and training program manager for ADOSH. “Even though Arizona has already reached 100-degree weather doesn’t mean planning and preparedness aren’t needed. Employers should take time to educate employees on heat safety now to help prevent future heat related illnesses and injuries.”
Other effective ways of preventing heat stress is consider an alternate work schedule, stay out of the direct sun with umbrellas or a shade covering, use cooling fans and avoid alcohol, caffeinated drinks or heavy meals while you are in the sun.
For more information, visit http://www.ica.state.az.us/.
Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) operates under an approved plan with the U.S. Department of Labor to retain jurisdiction over occupational safety and health issues within Arizona, excluding mining operations, Indian Reservations, and federal employees. This jurisdiction encompasses approximately 2.1 million employees and 130,000 public and private establishments. For more information on ADOSH, Consultation Partnership Programs and the Industrial Commission of Arizona, please visit http://www.ica.state.az.us/ or call (602) 542-5795.