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Workplace Safety: Hot Weather Edition! OSHA's Requirements to Keep Your Workers from Melting

by FCIS Team | This article was posted on 07 17, 2023 |

Thermometer exploding from heat

Summer is here, and so is the sizzling heat that can turn your workplace into a sauna. As an employer, it's your duty to prevent your employees from overheating and melting away. Just like a scoop of ice cream on a scorching day, worker safety should be your top priority. So, let's review OSHA's hot weather safety requirements and ensure your employees don't feel like they're working on the surface of the sun.

Understand the Hazards to avoid frying your workforce

Picture this: your employees as crispy critters, turning into human sun-dried tomatoes. Not a pretty sight, right? Heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke are no joke. Heat-related illnesses can affect anyone, but outdoor workers, such as construction workers, landscapers, and agricultural workers, are particularly vulnerable due to prolonged exposure to the sun and physical exertion. So, familiarize yourself with these hazards and make sure your employees don't resemble wilted garden plants.

Implement a Heat Illness Prevention Program

Think of your workplace as a tropical oasis where productivity and safety go hand in hand. OSHA recommends developing and implementing a comprehensive Heat Illness Prevention Program to minimize the risk of heat-related illnesses, including the following:

  • Education and Training: Train workers and supervisors about the signs, symptoms, and preventive measures related to heat-related illnesses. Ensure they understand the importance of hydration, rest breaks, and recognizing the early signs of heat exhaustion.
  • Acclimatization: Just like a popsicle needs time to melt, give your workers a chance to adapt to the heat. Gradually increase the workload and exposure time in hot conditions to allow workers to adapt to the heat. New and returning workers, as well as those in physically demanding jobs, need more time to adjust.
  • H2O, My Hero! Make sure your employees have access to water that flows like a babbling brook. Provide ample access to potable water and encourage workers to stay hydrated throughout the day. CAL/OSHA's Minimum water requirement is 1 quart of water per hour per employee.  Schedule frequent breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas to allow employees to rest and cool down.
  • Shady Spaces: Create sanctuaries of shade where your employees can take refuge from the blazing sun near workstations. Encourage employees to take regular breaks in these areas. Shade helps reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses and provides respite from direct sunlight.
  • Weather Whisperer: Assign a trustworthy individual to keep an eye on the weather forecast. Monitor weather conditions, heat index levels, and workers' well-being. Encourage open communication between supervisors and employees, allowing them to report any signs of heat-related distress.

Fashion Forward Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Protecting your workers from the sun doesn't mean they have to rock questionable fashion choices. Lightweight and breathable clothing, wide-brimmed hats, and a generous application of sunscreen can help protect workers from the sun's harmful rays. Encourage the use of cooling vests or bandanas to aid in temperature regulation.

Be the Coolest Boss

Lead by example and show your employees that you're as cool as a cucumber salad. Embrace safety protocols, encourage healthy habits, and keep a watchful eye on your team. Managers and supervisors should consistently and actively monitor workers to ensure compliance with heat safety guidelines.

Summer heat doesn't have to be a workplace nightmare. By following OSHA's hot weather safety requirements, you can keep your employees from overheating and  melting away like a snowman in July. Remember, a well-informed and protected workforce is not only more productive but also happier and healthier, leading to long-term success for your business. Prioritize worker safety, beat the heat, and ensure a fruitful and incident-free summer for your employees and your organization.

From all of us at the FCIS team, stay cool, stay safe, and enjoy a summer filled with laughter and productivity!