In the previous article, we highlighted tips for creating a heat-related illness prevention plan (HRIPP) and discussed the importance of considering total heat stress and personal risk factors. In this article, we will focus on the importance of adequate training and day-to-day supervision in preventing heat-related illness in the workplace.
Training is one tool that, when used effectively, can have a significant impact on reducing/preventing heat-related illnesses. Having a properly trained workforce can aid in identifying heat-related hazards and signs of heat-related illness. By investing in training for heat-related illness, employees can be equipped to recognize early symptoms of heat stress, administer first aid for heat related illness, and activate emergency medical services quickly when heat-related hazards are identified. In addition to proper training, there are several practical resources, like providing cool water, that can be used to help reduce the likelihood of heat-related illness. For additional tips on simple on-site resources, see last year’s article on heat-related illness prevention.
Along with adequate training, it is also important to have on-site day-to-day supervision of heat-related hazards. Heat conditions can change quickly, so it’s important to have someone who is capable of monitoring conditions on-site to be sure everyone is staying safe. On-site supervision of heat-related stress can ensure heat stress is determined accurately and HRIPPs are being properly implemented. Also, having someone who manages heat-related illness prevention can give employees’ a resource for expressing their heat stress questions and concerns. By providing on-site supervision of heat-related stress, an employer can better ensure proper management and prevention of heat-related illness.
In addition to training and on-site supervision, first-aid is incredibly important when considering heat-related illness prevention. There are several heat-related illnesses including: heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat syncope, heat rash, and muscle breakdown. Providing prompt first aid is vital, so it is important for employers and employees to be familiar with heat-related illnesses and their symptoms. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) supplies additional principles for first aid for heat-related illness.
Several resources on training for heat-related illness prevention, the importance of on-site supervision, and first aid for heat-related illness are available through OSHA and Virginia Department of Labor and Industry.
This three-part series highlighted the federal standards for heat-related illness, tips for creating an effective HRIPP, and the importance of training and day-to-day supervision of heat risks.
*This article was authored with the assistance of Summer Associate, Peyton Farley.