Heat stress can be more than a minor inconvenience for those who work in extremely warm conditions. Knowing how to prevent, identify and treat its symptoms can literally save lives.
In case of EXTREME TEMPERATURES, the following procedure is to assist in identifying times and applications when employees may be under duress from extremes of heat. This is caused by extreme weather conditions in the inside and or outside of the facility, the environment which ultimately has an effect on temperature whether or not employees are inside or outside of facility working.
This procedure applies to all employees, all shifts, and all working days when the outside temperature, (as reported by the bureau of meteorology) reaches a high of 86° F or above.
“Work in hot or cold environments” Work-Cover code of practice Training material on Dehydration in the workplace, NOAA, National Weather Service
Monitoring of the daily forecast by the supervisors coordinator and the management team will determine a course of action to be taken. Cold water shall be readily available to all employees. If you use water coolers, please keep in mind they can sometimes become warm due to extremes of temperature and constant usage.
Alternatives are to be provided when:
- Monitoring of the outside weather temperatures through the bureau of meteorology signals temperatures of 86° F or above.
- Staff consultation proves that the water coolers are becoming warm.
- Humidity increases and the source of heat cannot be removed.
Under these circumstances, provision of 4-5 gallons of clean, fresh, iced water will be made with the choice of flavored cordial if desired by employees. This will encourage fluid intake and prevent dehydration and related illnesses.
Steps to consider:
- Monitor temperature, humidity and worker’s physical response to hot environmental conditions
- Inform and train employees to recognize symptoms of heat related illness.
- Provide frequent rest breaks and rotate duties where possible.
- Provide fluids and encourage workers to make up for body fluid lost through sweating.
- A useful rule of thumb is that workers should drink at least half a liter of water each hour if hot environment results in excessive sweating.
- Provide fresh water supply for washing and external cooling
- Remove heat through exhaust systems or circulation of fans.
Responsibility of the Supervisors and the management team:
- To acknowledge when temperatures outside reach 86°F. At that stage iced water and cordial must be made available for all employees.
- Make employees aware of the fluid placement and encourage them to take in fluid and remain hydrated.
- The EH&S coordinator is to provide constant refresher training through communication meetings and toolbox talks during the summer months.
Responsibility of the supervisors and managers:
- To ensure that a reminder goes out if the heat and humidity increases to extreme levels.
- To ensure that employees understand the effects of exposure to hot environments and steps are taken to reduce the risks when and where possible.
- Conduct reminders through toolbox talks and consultation with employees.
Responsibility of the employee:
- To take action and be responsible for their own health and well-being by increasing fluid intake when necessary.
- To raise concerns with the management if adequate fluids are not available.
- To be aware that consultation is a vital part of the process to ensure the safety of them and their colleagues in line with own duty of care requirements.