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National Safety Month bonus topic
The month of June is a perfect time to give an annual refresher course on working in hot conditions. That’s probably why the NSC chose Summer Safety as a featured bonus topic during their annual National Safety Month. Here’s why this topic matters:
- Various health conditions are a direct result of rising temperatures, and they all interfere with worker performance,
- These conditions range from mild heat cramps to dangerous heatstroke, which, if not treated immediately, can lead to death.
- These conditions can also increase the risk for other accidents as overheated workers lose focus, get irritable, and make rash decisions.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, in order to maintain a fairly constant internal temperature, the body finds ways to get rid of excess heat. This is done primarily by varying the rate and amount of blood circulation through the skin and by the release of fluid onto the skin by the sweat glands. The process of lowering body temperature requires the heart to pump more blood, and blood circulates closer to the surface of the skin so the extra heat is lost to the environment.
If heat loss from increased blood circulation is not adequate, the sweat glands kick in and shed sweat onto the surface of the skin. Evaporation of the sweat cools the skin. But when humidity is high, evaporation decreases. More blood goes to the external surface of the body, with less going to muscles, the brain, and other organs. This can cause a drop in strength, an increase in fatigue and possibly, a change in mental condition.
Hot environments give rise to an increased risk of accidents because of slippery, sweaty palms; dizziness; foggy safety glasses; and a heat-related decline in alertness. When people are overheated, they also become more irritable and angry and may be more likely to take shortcuts.
Beat the heat
- Take these precautions:
- Drink at least four 8-ounce glasses of water or about a quart per hour throughout your shift.
- Wear light, loose-fitting, breathable clothing.
- Take frequent short breaks in cool shade.
- Eat smaller meals before work activity.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and large amounts of sugar.
- Check with an occupational health professional about risks associated with medications
Walk this way
Take these pedestrian precautions
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, backover incidents claimed more than 70 lives nationwide in 2011. The problem is so big that OSHA has initiated a Preventing Backovers program: www.osha.gov/doc/topics/backover/index.html.
When you work on foot in areas with large moving equipment, you are at risk— especially when the
equipment is moving in reverse. Driver visibility is greatly reduced behind the vehicle, and blind spots can be very large for some vehicles.
Take these precautions when you are a pedestrian around vehicles:
- Never cross in front of or behind a piece of moving equipment or vehicle.
- Never walk between a piece of moving equipment and a stationary object.
- Always make eye contact with equipment operators when they are in the area.
- Always yield the right-of-way to a piece of equipment or vehicle.
- Always allow sufficient stopping distance for large vehicles.
- Always stay out of blind spots.
- Always be aware of approaching vehicles and backup alarms or visible warn- ing lights, like flashing lights.
- Always wear reflective clothing.
- Always use designated pedestrian travel paths when they are available.
Summer safety quiz
Test what you know
Choose T for True or F for False for each of the following statements:
1. [wpspoiler name=”As long as you keep sweating when it’s hot, you won’t have any problems. T F” ]False – Too much sweating can cause dehydration if fluid isn’t replaced. Dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion.[/wpspoiler]
2. [wpspoiler name=”The risk of heat problems decreases if you’re doing physically demanding work in a hot environment. T F” ]False – The risk increases.[/wpspoiler]
3. [wpspoiler name=”Heat cramps are the most serious type of heat-related illness T F” ]False – Heatstroke is more dangerous and can be fatal.[/wpspoiler]
4. [wpspoiler name=”A person suffering from heatstroke needs immediate medical attention. T F” ]True – Call 911 if the person shows symptoms of heatstroke.[/wpspoiler]
5. [wpspoiler name=”Having a few cold beers after work can help prevent heat stress on a very hot day. T F” ]False – Generally, it’s best to avoid alcohol in very hot weather since it tends to dehydrate the body and increases the risk of heat stress.[/wpspoiler]
6. [wpspoiler name=”If you work in a hot environment, take your breaks in a cool place. T F” ]True[/wpspoiler]