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Best practices to combat extreme summer heat

By |  June 9, 2020

Logo: OSHA

As temperatures climb in many regions across the United States, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) offers best practices to combat extreme summer heat.

For starters, a cooler working environment is the best way to prevent heat-related illness. Air conditioning, including air-conditioned equipment cabs or break rooms, is a common and effective solution. But also consider cooling fans; reflective shields to redirect radiant heat; insulating hot surfaces; eliminating steam leaks; and local exhaust ventilation in areas of high heat production or moisture.

All employers should have an emergency plan for how to react in the event a worker has signs of a heat-related illness, and they should ensure medical services are available if needed. In some situations, it may be necessary to conduct physiological monitoring of workers.

Simple yet helpful practices include scheduling more physically-demanding tasks during cooler times of the day; providing adequate potable water close to the work area, with workers drinking small amounts regularly; and rotating job functions among employees to help minimize heat exposure and overexertion.

In regard to personal protective equipment, employers and employees should both be aware that certain types of respirators and/or impermeable clothing can increase the risk of heat-related illness. Special cooling devices can protect workers in hot environments, including insulated gloves or suits and reflective clothing or reflecting face shields. In addition, thermally conditioned clothing might be useful for extreme heat conditions, such as a plastic jacket with ice pockets that can be filled with containers of ice or dry ice.

Information for this article courtesy of OSHA.

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