With the hot summer months almost upon us, it's time to start thinking about how to stay safe and avoid heat related illness at work.
The effects of heat stress and illness can seriously harm an employee and also cause productivity and efficiency to drop.
While any worker can suffer from heat illness, it is the biggest concern for businesses that operate or involve physical activity outdoors.
Working outside under the summer sun can cause severe burns and often leads to fatigue, dehydration and weakness.
Heat-induced sweat on workers hands can potentially lead to a loss of grip on tools and controls, leading to errors being made and resulting in serious injuries.
Fatigue and discomfort can cause employees to cut corners or make mistakes that may be dangerous long after the job has finished.
Injuries from fatigue-related falls are another potential hazard of heat stress.
Symptoms of a heat illness
Signs that a worker is suffering from a heat illness include dizziness and nausea.
If an employee begins feeling sick or weak, they may be experiencing heat stress.
Hot temperatures can cause a worker to become clumsy and possibly even collapse or convulse.
Workers who exhibit any of these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.
Preventing heat illness
There are a number of ways to prevent heat illness from affecting your business and employees.
Simple things can make a big difference; for example, providing your workers with cool drinking water.
Employees should be encouraged to drink water every 15 to 20 minutes during the summer months, regardless of whether they are inside or out.
Try to schedule hot, physically demanding tasks for the cooler parts of the day – early morning or late evening.
Outdoor workers should be provided with heat protection, including sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and plenty of shade to rest under.
Keep employees away from large, hot machinery and processes. Try to keep equipment that runs hot away from where work is being performed.
Of course, one of the easiest ways to avoid heat stress is by teaching your employees to recognise the signs in themselves and their colleagues. First aid training is also incredibly helpful in the summer months to treat the symptoms of heat stress.
If you're interested in investing in your employee's health and wellbeing these summer months, consider purchasing corporate health insurance.
HICA can offer an obligation-free health insurance comparison to help you choose the business health plan that's right for your employees.