With the climatology forecasts predicting high temperatures for the summer, understanding its impact and consequences on personnel and equipment can potentially reduce the negative impacts associated with high summer temperature. All industries can suffer an impact but those that have personnel who work outdoors or who utilize equipment exposed to summer temperatures as the most at risk for heat-related incidents.
These types of incidents can reduce or inhibit productivity, increase costs and have an adverse effect that reaches far beyond the specific incident. Therefore, preparedness is the key to preventing or reducing the impacts of heat-related incidents.
Impacts On Personnel
Often, the most common impact is upon personnel who are by necessity continually exposed to excessive summer temperature. Importantly, heat related problems begin to manifest prior to any actual physical expressions of the problem. Thus, to prevent heat-related incidents among personnel, taking the appropriate steps is a necessity.
Due to the severity and the impact of the heat on personnel, OSHA recommendations suggest employers provide access to shade, water and have a plan to deal with the heat. In addition, it is recommended to monitor workers closely and provide heat-related training to prevent incidents. Other preventative measures include but are not limited to:
- Require workers to wear light clothing and head coverings
- Require workers to drink water every fifteen minutes, even if not thirsty.
- Ask workers to monitor each other for signs of heat-related concerns
- Provide frequent rest periods in a shaded location
- Allow workers to acclimatize to the heat at the start of each day.
- These steps can help reduce the potential for and the impacts of heat-related incidents upon personal.
Impacts On Equipment
While the excessive summer heat can have a negative impact on equipment, often, the impact has to do with the interaction of personnel with the equipment. This can lead to less than the effective handling of the equipment or an avoidance of using the appropriate safety procedures when using the equipment. Thus, equipment should be considered in relation to any heat action plan established by the company. Some recommendations include:
- Shading equipment whenever practical
- Ensure proper functioning of all cooling equipment (fans, etc)
- Shutting down unused equipment or not allowing equipment to idle.
- Use reflectors or sunscreens when cabs are unoccupied.
- Reduce equipment usage during peak heating hours
Each of these can reduce heat-related impacts on your business as well as improve the interaction between personnel and the equipment. Some recommendations such as reducing idle or shutting down equipment can also save on energy costs.
Each summer season, thousands of workers are injured due to heat-related incidents. Not only is the adverse effect felt among workers but the delays in time, increased costs, loss of productivity and more ripple through the business. Preventing heat-related incidents reduces these potential impacts and positions your business to continue the path towards success.