We asked employers and safety professionals to tell us how they are keeping workers safe from extreme heat. Below are some of their stories. To share yours, send us an email or tweet a photo using the hashtags #WaterRestShade and #ProTips.
Aegion Coating Services LLC provides corrosion protection for structures and facilities around the world. The company's Corrpro subsidiary has a heat management campaign that provides heat illness prevention training and weekly bulletins on heat management topics relevant to the company's scope of work. Workers use the OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool app to monitor the heat index along with a company custom-built app to report and evaluate heat exposures and responses. This technology is combined with supervisors' participation in weekly and monthly audits that directly support and improve summer safety plans. The program has resulted in two full years without any heat-related incidents among Corrpro's 1,200 employees.
Precision Castparts Corp. is a metal foundry in Groton, Conn. During the summer, outdoor temperatures and humidity combined with ovens that reach 1,500-2,000°F put workers at greater risk for heat illness. All employees are educated about the warning signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses, as well as the immediate actions to take until trained on-site first aid responders and/or EMS arrive. When the heat index reaches an action level for employees performing strenuous work, increased water intake is mandated, and electrolyte replacement fluids are provided. Additionally, these workers can go to a designated Heat Stress Recovery Area during the mandatory rest cycle. To minimize the effect on production, qualified employees from other departments can be brought in to replace the primary workers while they are resting.
Schnetz Landscape Inc. in San Diego emphasizes the importance of personal protective equipment to shield its workers from the sun in addition to the fundamentals of water, rest and shade. Neck visors and head wraps made of treated fabrics block UV rays, wick away sweat, and stay cold when wet. These provide workers with relief from the heat by keeping their heads and necks cool.
Land of Lincoln Goodwill Industries in Springfield, Ill., implements a buddy system within shifts so that workers can keep an eye on each other and report to their supervisor if they notice symptoms of heat illness. It is the company's policy that new and/or transferred employees be acclimated to the environment by getting frequent breaks during their first two weeks on the job and during heat waves. The company also equips workers with cooling caps and bandanas, and provides earlier shifts and additional breaks, water and sports drinks on days when temperatures are expected to be especially high. Throughout the summer the company sends text messages/emails, and gives posters and toolbox talks to keep workers alert to the hazards of heat exposure.
Ballard Marine Construction is a marine infrastructure and utility contractor serving international clients in the nuclear, hydroelectric, salvage, pipeline, and submarine cable industries. The company sets up portable shade canopies outside its dive control vans, with misting hoses woven throughout the frames to cover workers with a fine spray of water throughout the day. The company has also installed misters on its barges and used misting fans to keep its workers cool in high temperatures.
Granite Construction, one of the 25 largest construction companies in the U.S., uses a variety of methods to keep its workers safe from the heat. These include: providing each jobsite supervisor with a portable canopy sun shade; equipping workers with evaporative, cooling neck towels and shades that attach to the back of their hard hats to protect their necks from sun exposure; monitoring the OSHA-NIOSH heat safety app and following its recommendations; and conducting training sessions on heat exposure, how to recognize and treat heat-related illness, and proper hydration.
Valair Aviation in Oklahoma City, Okla., has 25-35 employees who work in aircraft hangars that can exceed 95 degrees. The aviation maintenance company purchased large fans, ice machines and filtered water dispensers and rotated jobs to cooler locations within the hangars. Valair also purchased new, lightweight t-shirts and allows employees to wear shorts when the outside temperature exceeds 82 degrees. Training classes were held to instruct workers on the signs of dehydration, heat cramps, and heat stroke. Nearly all of the workers have been certified in first aid, CPR, and defibrillator use so that if any incident of heat illness does occur they will know how to handle the situation until EMS arrives.
Baker Roofing, the nation's second largest residential and commercial roofing contractor, has taken several measures to keep its workers safe throughout the South and Southeast during extreme heat conditions. The company gave its workers cooling inserts for their hard hats, adjusted schedules to begin earlier and get workers off roofs by 2 p.m. daily, and provided each crew with water coolers and shade tents that they plan to equip with misting machines.
Safety Controls Technology, a workplace safety and health consultation company in Middleburg Heights, Ohio, produced a video titled "Beat the Heat" to educate clients on how to protect workers from heat illness. It emphasizes the importance of water, rest and shade; OSHA's heat safety app, and reminds viewers that indoor workplaces such as bakeries can also expose workers to heat illness hazards.