Heat Illness

Jun 2016 01 | Posted by liz.smith

Here we are again, it’s hot.  We have officially moved from ‘use caution’ to ‘use extreme caution’ with regard to the steadily rising, here comes summer temperatures. Prolonged sun exposure and/or physical activity can cause a number of problems for those who are not yet acclimated to the heat and/or those at risk for other reasons.

First, evaluate your own personal risk factors when your work-or play-takes you outdoors in the hot weather.   Do you use medication, alcohol or caffeine that makes you more susceptible to heat illness?  Carrying a few extra pounds?  Keeping yourself properly hydrated and resting frequently in the shade is even more important if you have personal risk factors at play.    Another consideration:  have you been a victim of heat illness in the past?  Your chances of reoccurrence are higher than someone who has never had it. 

If you are a supervisor or employer, you have a duty to comply with Cal-OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention Plan.  The requirements are many, and the standards are increasingly strict.  What amount of shade is considered adequate?  How much water must be available to workers throughout the day?  Are you aware at what temperature employers are required to provide shade if there is none?    Not sure if you are in compliance?  GSRMA can help.  We offer guidance and on-site, OSHA compliant Heat Illness Prevention training.   

If your Heat Illness Prevention Plan has been updated in the past year and you just need a refresher, break out the policy and review it with your staff.  Revisit the signs and symptoms of heat illness, your plan for shade and cooling rest breaks, and make potable water accessible at all times.  How you will monitor someone who exhibits symptoms? What is your procedure is for administering first aid and enacting emergency response?  What extra measures will be taken to protect new employees, they are at an increased risk for heat illness as they navigate new tasks and job responsibilities.

Lastly, understand that while we are all different, none of us are acclimated…yet.  You must work in these warmer temperatures for at least 4 days…some sources say up to two weeks or longer, before your body adjusts.  Take care out there:  drink water before you are thirsty, seek shade and take frequent breaks.  And if anything you have read here has you wondering if you are in compliance, call GSRMA today.  Heat Illness violations are a favorite of OSHA inspectors all season long….and that is one ‘heat related’ headache you can easily avoid.