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How to Keep Employees Safe from Heat Stroke and Sun Exposure

Wed, Sep 12, 2018 at 4:05PM

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It's still hot and humid in Central Florida. That means the risk of weather-related workers compensation claims remains high.

In fact, more than 600 U.S. residents die each year as a direct result of extreme heat exposure, according to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Many of those victims are outdoor workers. Researchers say team members new to a job site are especially prone to heat-related illness and death. These employees may be unaware of the dangers, or otherwise trying to impress/influence their new peers.

As a business leader, you can’t risk this kind of show-boating, ignorance, or indifference to the very real dangers of heat stroke and sun exposure. That’s why it’s essential to get everyone on board with safety procedures early. Here’s how to begin:

Know the Signs

The three major areas of heat-related injuries are:

  1. heat cramps
  2. heat exhaustion
  3. heat stroke

Being able to recognize and treat each unique instance is essential to know what kind of first aid is required. 

  1. Heat cramps are most often associated with dehydration. Health experts contend that when team members are parched, dehydration has already begun. Noticeable signs include fatigue, dry mouth, confusion/incoherent speech, and seemingly unquenchable thirst. In extreme cases, dehydration also causes pain and cramping in the legs and abdomen.

The best way to treat heat cramping is to immediately move the affected employee to a cool and dry place. Workers should remove bulky equipment and excess layers of clothing. They should also drink plenty of fluids (juices and electrolyte-replacing sports drinks are preferable to soda and coffee).

  1. Heat exhaustion occurs when an employee has lost a significant amount of fluid. This happens through sweating and/or excessive urination. Many times, heat exhaustion is a direct result of a dramatic salt loss in the body. Recovery is typically swift. Like heat cramps, this involves moving the affected team member to a cool and dry place and administering fluids to rehydrate.
  2. Heat stroke is the most severe of the mentioned heat-related injuries. This most often occurs after the first two symptoms have been ignored or gone unrecognized. It’s important to note that heat stroke is a life-threatening condition. Undetected or untreated heat stroke can easily result in major complications, including permanent brain damage and even death.

Educate Team Members

As a business leader, you know that workplace safety involves everyone. Along with specific policies and procedures that must be followed by all employees, team members can also take charge of their own well-being, and encourage co-workers to adopt a serious approach to safety and personal security while on the job site.

Especially for those workers who spend a great deal of time outside, proper hydration is integral. As a general rule, employees should drink two to four glasses (16-24 ounces) of fluids every hour. Workers should avoid beverages that contain caffeine, alcohol, or high quantities of sugar. This produces a diuretic effect, which actually causes loss of bodily fluid.

Encourage team members on a break to wash or rinse with cold water. This helps regulate ideal body temperature. If no sink is available, chilled bottled water can be used for this purpose. While proper attire is still required, employees should wear lightweight and light-colored clothing.

When everyone takes outdoor safety seriously, accidents and injuries are drastically reduced and employee absence due to heat-related health concerns is all but eliminated.

Get Comprehensive Insurance Coverage

Your first focus is on the safety and wellbeing of your employees and customers. That’s commendable. Still, it’s essential to protect your company from any number of potential claims and/or lawsuits. That’s why it’s wise to partner with a trusted and reputable insurance firm well-versed with construction insurance and other concentrations.

Since 2002, we’ve helped countless business owners and individuals with a variety of insurance needs. From business and commercial, to risk management, homeowners insurance, automobile, and much more, our friendly and knowledgeable agents are always glad to answer your questions. Contact us today to secure comprehensive insurance coverage for your business.

 

 


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