LWCC Offers Tips for Avoiding Heat-Related Injuries in the Workplace
BATON ROUGE, La. -- June is National Safety Month, and as soaring summer temperatures quickly approach, it is important for employers to educate all employees--particularly those working outdoors--about the dangers of heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and the more life-threatening heatstroke.
Louisiana Workers' Compensation Corporation (LWCC) is reminding employers and employees to take every precaution to avoid these illnesses, or possibly death, by following a few simple guidelines when working under extreme heat conditions.
Summers in Louisiana are among the most oppressively hot and humid in the United States with daytime high temperatures from mid-June to mid-September averaging 90°F (32°C) or more. It is during these extreme summer temperatures that employees, such as construction workers, roofers, delivery persons, farmers, landscapers and even those working indoors, are most at risk for heat-related illnesses.
Employers are strongly encouraged to learn the deadly effects of extreme heat and humidity on workers and what steps need to be taken to protect them, such as drinking ample fluids, taking frequent breaks in a cool or shaded area, cutting down on caffeine and encouraging the wearing of light-colored clothes that reflect the heat instead of absorbing it. Employers should also be aware that injuries can occur in deceptively mild weather, due to high humidity, making working under these conditions particularly dangerous.
Additionally, preventive measures should be enforced by management and adhered to by all workers, not only those working outdoors. Heat-related injuries can also occur year-round for those working indoors in laundries, bakeries, restaurant kitchens and warehouses, despite efforts to keep these areas cool with air conditioners, fans and open windows.
According to Mike Page, LWCC director of safety and loss prevention, "Making a few simple workplace adjustments, as well as providing proper training, can go a long way in preventing heat-related injuries, saving lost workdays and possibly saving lives. It's especially important that workers know how to recognize the signs of heat-related illness in themselves and their coworkers."
Employers and employees seeking detailed information on the symptoms and treatment of heat-related illnesses can visit www.lwcc.com.
LWCC (www.lwcc.com) is a private, nonprofit mutual insurance company. It is the state's largest writer of workers' compensation insurance, covering about 22,000 policyholders in Louisiana. The company carries an "A" (Excellent) rating from A.M. Best and, for the fifth year in a row, was named one of the top 50 property and casualty insurance companies in the nation by Ward Group, the leading authority on insurance industry benchmarking.
HOT TIPS for COOLING DOWN from Heat Stress*
Factors Leading to Heat Stress:
· High temperature and humidity
· Direct sun or heat
· Limited air movement
· Physical exertion and poor physical condition
· Some medicines
· Inadequate tolerance for hot workplaces
Types of Heat Stress:
· Muscle Cramps
· Heat Exhaustion
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion:
· Headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
· Weakness and moist skin
· Mood changes such as irritability or confusion
· Upset stomach or vomiting
Symptoms of Heatstroke:
· Dry, hot skin with no sweating
· Mental confusion or losing consciousness
· Seizures or convulsions
Employers Should Encourage Workers to:
· Drink plenty of fluids (5 to 7 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes)
· Reduce or eliminate alcohol and tobacco intake
· Build up tolerance for warm environments by gradually increasing working time
· Stay physically fit
· Dress in light colors, if possible
· Dress in loose clothing, if possible
· Alternate work and rest periods
What to Do for Heat-Related Illness:
· Call 911 immediately! While waiting for help:
· Move the worker to a cool, shaded area
· Loosen or remove heavy clothing
· Provide cool drinking water
· Fan and mist the person with water
Detailed information is available at www.lwcc.com and at these related links:
*The above information is available in English and Spanish at www.osha.gov
Originally Published: June 11, 2007