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Be Sure to Stay Cool

26 Jun 2024 7:46 PM | Anonymous

The body normally cools itself by sweating. During hot weather, especially in high humidity conditions like a dry cleaning plant, sweating isn't enough. Body temperature can rise to dangerous levels if workers don't drink enough water and take periodic breaks in a well ventilated, low light space. Without reasonable precautions workers can suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

In 2023, the United States saw a record number of heat-related deaths, with more than 2,300 people dying from excessive heat. That is the highest number since they have been tracking it.  Between Jan. 1, 2023 and Dec. 31, 2023, there were a total of 119,605 ER visits for heat-related illnesses, with 92% of those visits occurring between May and September, according to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heat illnesses and deaths are preventable.

OSHA requires employers to provide a safe workplace, including protection from extreme heat.

Here are some things you can do to protect your workers from excessive heat.

  • Make arrangements to increase the delivery schedule for your water cooler.

  • Make arrangements to have ice, ice coolers and water bottles on hand.

  • Make towels available for workers to wet down with cold water.

  • Make sure every work station has a properly operating fan and cool water.

  • Instruct workers to drink water at least every 15 minutes, even if they are not thirsty.

  • Instruct workers to wear cool, looser fitting clothes made from natural fibers (cotton) that will breathe.

  • Allow frequent breaks for workers to rest in a location that provides respite from the heat.

  • Allow new or returning workers to gradually increase workloads and take more frequent breaks as they acclimatize, or build a tolerance for working in the heat.

  • Adjust working hours to avoid having employees work during the hottest part of the day

  • Make sure all steam pipes and hoses are insulated.

  • Plan for emergencies and train workers on signs of heat distress.

  • Encourage workers to ‘keep an eye’ on each other

  • Require supervisors to monitor workers for signs of illness.

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