OSHA Audit: Reduce the Risk of Workplace Accidents This Summer

By Jezabel Southard

Posted on August 11, 2017

From slippery snow and ice in winter to the risks of people and materials overheating in summer, every season presents its own challenges to workplace safety.

But despite knowing this, many workplaces don’t reevaluate safety or assess new risks on a season-by-season basis.

To reduce the risk of workplace accidents this summer, focus on the following points:

Understand the Dangers of Working in Heat

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), dozens of deaths and thousands of illnesses and injuries are caused by extreme heat and humidity on worksites every year, with these numbers rising sharply in the summer. Workers in any industry can be injured by heat, although the risk is higher in certain industries, including construction. Heat-related illnesses do not discriminate: they can harm anyone, regardless of age or physical condition.

Know the Warning Signs of Heat-Induced Illnesses

Heat-induced illnesses include heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Symptoms of each include:

  • Heat rash: clusters of small red bumps on the skin
  • Heat cramps: muscle spasms and pain, often in the arms, legs, or abdomen
  • Heat exhaustion: cool, moist skin, heavy sweating, headache, dizziness or lightheadedness, nausea or vomiting, thirst and increased heartbeat
  • Heat stroke: high body temperature, excessive sweating or no sweating, confusion, fainting, and seizures

Every form of heat-related illness should be treated. Milder forms, like heat rash, can be treated by moving the person to a cool, shady place and having them drink water. For more severe symptoms, emergency response or a doctor’s intervention may be required.

Require Employees to Take Effective Precautions

OSHA requires employers to eliminate or reduce known safety hazards, including the risks of working in heat.

Implementing heat illness prevention policies also helps maintain productivity by ensuring your staff can get their jobs done instead of succumbing to illness.

To help reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses, and ensure your employees can work effectively in summer temperatures, consider implementing the following policies:

  • Provide water, shade and rest periods for workers, and require that rest periods in the shade and water breaks be strictly observed.
  • Create an acclimation system so new or returning workers build their heat tolerance gradually, with a focus on less onerous tasks and more frequent breaks at the start.
  • Train workers to recognize symptoms of heat-related illnesses, to intervene with one another when signs appear and to provide first aid if needed.

By frequently auditing or assessing your workplace safety policies, you will ensure that your company has the necessary policies in place and that they are being followed. Talk to your recruiting partner about your workplace safety policies as their expertise in the field may help you see additional opportunities to improve employee safety.

At TERRA Staffing Group, our recruiters strive to understand your unique needs so we can recommend the best candidates for every step of your business’s growth. Contact us today to learn more about our staffing services in Seattle, Portland and Phoenix.

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