Preventing and Responding to Heat Illness
When working in warm or hot weather an effective communication system is a critical part of your program to be successful in preventing heat illness. This is because as temperatures increase and other environmental factors change throughout the workday, employees’ physical and/or mental state can rapidly change into a serious medical condition. Therefore it is important that you stay alert to the weather and with employees input from the field use this information to quickly make the proper adjustments in your work practices and activities, or summon emergency response personnel if necessary. The goal is to make appropriate adjustments in work practices and activities before problems arise or become serious or summon help if it is needed. In order to do this you need to implement an effective communication system to contact employees and supervisors in the workplace.
Some "tools" for effective real time communication in remote locations include the use of cell phones, walkie-talkies, two way radios, satellite phones, and other devices. Employees and supervisors need to be fully trained on how to use your communication system to prevent heat illness.
Guidance, Best Practices and Warnings
Employer must monitor any individual employee who takes a preventative cool-down rest and ask if he or she is experiencing symptoms of heat illness. Employer must also encourage employees to remain in the shade, and not order back to work until they do not have signs or symptoms of heat illness. The preventative cool down rest period shall not be less than 5 minutes in addition to the time needed to access the shade.
If an employee exhibits signs or reports symptoms of heat illness while taking a preventative cool-down rest or during a preventative cool-down rest period, the employer shall provide appropriate first aid or emergency response.
The employer must also ensure effective employee observation/monitoring throughout the work shift.
During warm or hot weather, high heat or a heat wave it is necessary for supervisors and employees to be particularly attentive to each other and communicate on a frequent basis about how they are feeling. It is important to encourage employees not to discount any discomfort or symptoms they are experiencing and to report these problems immediately to their supervisor and coworkers. Employees and supervisors should be fully trained on effective modes of communication for the prevention of heat illness during warm or hot weather, and high heat or a heat wave.Using an effective communication system allows employees to report to supervisors, co-workers or other designated persons how they are feeling on a real time basis. Some suggested methods include: