4 Tips to Protect Your Workforce from Extreme Heat
Global warming has been a global issue under heavy public attention for the past few decades, and is still yet to be solved. Extreme heat, is truly the “sleeper killer”, that contributes to a breathtaking annual mortality of 5 million globally. This raised the concerning issue of ensure workforce safety.
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Coping with extreme heat levels whilst working is not an easy task. Companies’ facilities and policies in promotion of employees’ well-being should be implemented to protect your workforce.
The stakeholders have to arrange suitable adjustments during heat waves for the sake of a healthy company and individual growth. Here are a few tips from Pacific Prime to get you started.
What is Extreme Heat?
To understand the reason companies should practice workforce safety, it is crucial to know what extreme heat is at the very first place.
Extreme heat conditions refer to the weather being much hotter/humid than the average local temperature. For instance, we all expect summer to be warm, but it’s a problem when the heat turns out to be unbearable or even life-threatening.
At this critical period, heat-related illnesses strike frequently and have been more or less affecting individuals from all walks of life.
In normal conditions, sweating helps the thermoregulation of internal organs by increasing heat loss through evaporation. But when you exercise strenuously or otherwise overexert in hot, humid weather, your body is less efficient in cooling itself, causing heat-related illness.
There are a total of 3 heat-related illnesses: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. They occur when the core body temperature cannot be regulated normally to 37˚C/98.6˚F and the details are as follow:
1. Heat cramps
Heat cramps refer to muscle spasms caused by an immense loss of salt and water in the body, often in the abdomen, arms, or calves. They can occur from prolonged exposure to extreme heat combined with dehydration.
- Heavy sweating during intense exercise
- Muscle pain
2. Heat exhaustion
It is a condition that happens when your body overheats for an extended period of time, especially when combined with dehydration.
- Heavy sweating
- Fast and weak pulse
- Pale skin
3. Heat stroke
Heat stroke is the most serious medical condition, requiring immediate emergency treatment. It occurs when the body can no longer regulate its temperature, reaching over 40.5˚C/104.9˚F.
Potentially fatal, this condition usually occurs as a progression from the aforementioned illnesses, or sometimes strikes without prior symptoms. It has symptoms similar to those of heat exhaustion, except that it causes a fast and strong pulse.
There are a few external and internal factors that escalate the risks of catching heat-related illnesses.
High levels of humidity: Humidity affects how hot one feels. High humidity hinders the water evaporation process in the human body, slowing down the cool-off process through sweating, and vice versa.
Obesity: Carrying excess weight can affect your body’s ability to regulate internal temperature, as fat tissues might trap more heat inside the body.
Dehydration: What we sweat out is essentially water, and internal dehydration lessens the body’s ability to sweat and keep a normal temperature.
Heart disease: Individuals with impaired cardiovascular diseases are less capable of increasing stroke volume, cardiac output, and blood flow to the skin.
Why is it Necessary to Protect Your Workforce from Extreme Heat?
Think of a company as a machine, and employees as cogwheels. Every employee is an independent cogwheel, and without any of them, the machine will not be able to function smoothly. Cogwheels are the powerhouse of a company, continuously driving it toward success.
That is why the key to running a business long is regular maintenance and attentive protection of your employees.
Workforce Protection Measures to Be Taken
Employers should have a few pocket modifications to the company’s operation in mind, ready to be put into practice.
1. Provide adequate water
One essential thing that employers can do is to ensure that employees have access to plenty of cool drinking water. Make sure water sources are readily available and easily accessible to all.
2. Maximize thermal comfort
You could do it in two ways. Namely, employers should reduce workplace heat stress using engineering and administrative controls.
Engineering controls include changes to work settings such as heat-resistant clothing for outdoor settings and improvement of air quality and ventilation for indoor settings.
Administrative controls include alternation of tasks for it to be less physically demanding and increase recovery and rest time in cool, shaded areas.
3. Train employees on heat illness prevention
Especially for outdoor workers, employers should provide appropriate training to employees on signs and symptoms of heat illness and what could be done if they or a co-worker experience those symptoms. Employees’ quick reflexes and decision-making in identifying such symptoms could save lives.
Supervisors should also be provided with additional training in monitoring alert reports and responding to hot weather advisories.
4. Adopt a long-term approach to heat management
All employers should have a communication plan that includes relevant parties to reach out to, and links with local health systems and emergency response services. Be sure you are making adaptions in satisfaction with ASHRAE recommendations and local legislation requirements.
For short to medium-term approaches, immediate administrative control and an adaptive strategy for all types of employees are desirable.
A rational long-term approach would be building design and implementation of transit access points that facilitate company-home commutes for all workers.
Secure Insurance Plan for Your Company with Pacific Prime
Now that you know what you can do for your workforce to protect them from extreme weather conditions, it is time to add another layer of protection for your valuable assets with Pacific Prime.
From group & company health insurance to employee benefits solutions, we provide comprehensive coverage of insurance options tailored to your personal needs and wants. With over 20 years in the insurance industry, our professionals can help you or your organization search for the best insurance options to safeguard the well-being of you and/or your employees.
Do not hesitate to contact Pacific Prime today for a professional consultation or free quote!