I just got back from vacation and it was HOT. I started thinking that this must be the hottest time of the year for most of us. It got me wondering about the Safety of all the folks out there in the manufacturing industry. I went to the best source I know, Tim Adam with DIS-TRAN Steel. Grant it, I work in an office (thank goodness), but I work with a bunch who do not get the luxury of air conditions and fans.
In the Utility Industry you have a vast array of people doing outside labors. Contractors erecting structures, truck drivers loading/unloading trucks, field project folks supervising as well as the steel fabricator and manufacture the steel structures (this one hits close to home). It’s important to remember that Safety must come FIRST, no matter what you’re doing.
When it's hot, drink plenty of water!
Below is a list of Heat Related Illnesses:
Heat Stroke - is the most serious form of heat injury and is a medical emergency. Heat stroke often occurs as a progression from milder heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps and heat exhaustion. But it can strike even if you have no previous signs of heat injury. Heat stroke can kill or cause damage to the brain and other internal organs. Although heat stroke mainly affects people over age 50, it also takes a toll on healthy young athletes. The hallmark symptom of heat stroke is a core body temperature above 105° Fahrenheit. But fainting may be the first sign. If you suspect that someone has heat stroke -- also known as sunstroke -- you should call 911 immediately. Until help arrives, move the victim to a cool area and remove excess clothing. Fan and spray them with cool water. Offer sips of water if the victim is conscious.
It is important to hydrate your body well prior to being subjected to hot work environment. Drink and eat a well-balanced meal the night before and have a good breakfast prior to a work shift. Fruit and fruit juices are good to help hydrate your body and restore electrolytes. Do not consume energy drinks as they are full of sugar and your body has to work harder to digest them. Gator aid and Power aid help restore electrolytes but need to be consumed in a 1 to 3 water bottle ratio to help prevent kidney stones. Watch the color of your urine. If it is bright yellow, you are not consuming enough water.
Heat exhaustion- can occur after you've been exposed to high temperatures for several days and have become dehydrated. Symptoms include confusion, dizziness, headache and fatigue. Although heat exhaustion isn't as serious as heat stroke, it isn't something to be taken lightly. Without proper intervention, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, which can damage the brain and other vital organs, and even cause death. If you, or anyone else, have symptoms of heat exhaustion immediately get out of the heat and rest, preferably in an air-conditioned room. If you can't get inside, try to find the nearest cool and shady place.
Heat cramps- are painful, brief muscle cramps. Muscles may spasm or jerk involuntarily. Heat cramps can occur during exercise or work in a hot environment or begin a few hours later. Heat cramps usually involve muscles that are fatigued by heavy work, such as calves, thighs, and shoulders. Painful cramps occur in the arms, legs, or stomach while on the job, or later at home. Move to a cool area at once if cramping is experienced. Loosen clothing and drink cool water or an electrolyte replacement beverage, such as Gatorade®. Seek medical aid if the cramps are severe, or don't go away.
Dehydration - occurs when the loss of body fluids exceeds the amount that is taken in. With dehydration, more water is moving out of our cells and bodies than what we take in through drinking. Along with the water, small amounts of electrolytes are also lost. When we lose too much water, our bodies may become out of balance or dehydrated. Severe dehydration can lead to death. See the Dehydration Urine Color Chart help identify whether you may be dehydrated or not. Click here
As a quick resource OSHA has Quick Cards with valuable information for quick references.
Working or playing in a hot environment puts stress on the body and when combined with physical work, loss of fluids or fatigue it could have detrimental effects. WATER is crucial and remember to not push yourself beyond your limits.
At DIS-TRAN Steel, we have made it a priority to educate and remind all of our employees the symptoms and prevention techniques. Our Safety Manager keeps in contact with all the supervisors about weather conditions, heat indices, and conducts multiple heat related Tool Boxes.
How do you keep cool while working in a HOT environment? We would love to hear from you so please use the comment section below.