As we frequently tell clients during first aid training, just because the temperature outside has one reading doesn’t mean that that’s the actual temperature the human body is experiencing – particularly when you factor in humidity. This becomes all the more true for industrial warehouse workers. While we know that outside work poses its own safety risks for heat stress and since the precautions seem more apparent (stay out of the heat, take breaks, etc.), companies tend to assume that being directly out of the sun enables protection from extreme heat.
Actually, it’s just the opposite.
Let’s say that today is going to be a 95-degree day – hot enough for you, right? Then let’s add humidity to the mix. Suddenly, we’re looking at temperatures potentially soaring past triple digits. But we’re not done yet. Consider if you have a factory or warehouse area that isn’t well ventilated in all areas. It’s easy to have one common area of the warehouse that’s cooler than others, complete with a refrigerator nearby stocked with water but what if there’s one hidden area in a far-off corner that doesn’t have good ventilation, doesn’t have easy access to water within arm’s length and features machinery that cranks up the heat to an unbearable high temperature? If only one person is operating the machinery in this area and isn’t visible to others, we’re talking about a significant safety issue escalating into a very dangerous situation in a hurry.
Therefore, do a sweep of your facility to ensure that every area where your people are working has sufficient air conditioning, portable fans, ceiling fans and exhaust fans.
So, What Can You Do To Minimize The Risk Of Heat Stress?
- Be aware of where your workers are on the floor at all times, especially on these hotter-than-hot days.
If they’re out of sight and suddenly collapse, their life could be in real danger if just 10 minutes pass. Make sure everyone is taking the appropriate breaks throughout the day and are aware of each other’s location to ensure this happens uniformly.
- Look for signs of physical and mental alertness in your team.
Related to the first point, you have to be in a fully alert state when operating any machinery in a warehouse anyway, but adding in the extra component of extreme heat could cause a change in an individual that’s noticeable enough to take action. So watch each other carefully.
- Does the individual seem like they aren’t responding right away to your questions?
- Are they walking in a way that suggests they’re disoriented, confused and dizzy?
- Is their speech slurred?
- Are they complaining of muscle cramps or spasms?
- Are they having trouble standing or feeling weaker than normal?
- Do they appear to be more irritable than usual?
- Are they saying they feel nauseous or have a headache?
If so, don’t take chances. Pull them aside, make sure they take a break and drink plenty of fluids before they go back on the warehouse floor.
- Hydration is not a one-time thing.
We know that during any given day, most of us don’t drink enough water as it is. The general school of thought is that people should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Again, however, let’s add in the extreme heat factor – now we may be talking about even more. So don’t force your people to wait until a designated break in order to hydrate. If they need it, let them get it. No task is worth them experiencing heat stress while having to wait it out until their next break to get water and cool off.
- Wear special clothing that’s lighter for these conditions.
While they need protective clothing in warehouse conditions, it’s crucial that the same clothing isn’t working against your people to trap heat in on a brutally hot day. Make the exception from the norm and see to it that they’re wearing the type of clothing that is better suited for these conditions.
Managing heat stress is everybody’s responsibility.
SOS can give you the tools and training to ensure that.
Is your warehouse prepared with the appropriate first aid items to be ready for heat stress incidents? Are you relying on one person like a warehouse manager to be in charge of safety for your team?
It’s time to fix that – right now.
Talk to SOS Technologies about having one of our safety consultants come to your facility and take stock of the first aid supplies you have on hand and asses any that need to be replenished. That’s not all. We can also provide first aid training to your team so your people will know exactly how to administer first aid to someone in need of quick assistance. In the moment of truth, you need fast answers. Not more questions. For total safety preparedness in your warehouse, make the call to SOS today at 888.705.6100.