Certain safety problems are common to hot environments. Heat tends to promote accidents owing to the slipperiness of sweaty palms, dizziness or the fogging of safety glasses.
Working in a hot environment lowers your mental alertness and physical performance. Increased body temperature and physical discomfort can lead to irritability, anger and other emotional states which sometimes cause workers to overlook safety procedures or to divert attention from hazardous tasks.
Lessening stressful conditions for outdoor workers:
- Postpone non-essential tasks
- Permit only those workers acclimatized to heat ("used to" heat) to perform the more strenuous tasks
- Provide additional workers to perform the tasks keeping in mind that all workers should have the physical capacity to perform the task and that they should be accustomed to the heat
- Implementing work/rest cycles (work/rest cycles give the body an opportunity to get rid of excess heat, slow down the production of internal body heat and provide greater blood flow to the skin)
Outdoor workers can protect themselves from the sun by:
- Trying to avoid the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when the sun's rays are strongest
- Wearing a wide brimmed hat/head gear to keep you cooler
- Wearing UV protective sunglasses
- Putting on sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher
- Wearing lightweight, light-coloured, loose fitting clothing
- Drinking water
Beware of cloudy days - the UV index may still be high and you can still get sun burned
Lessening stressful conditions for indoor workers:
Many industries have attempted to reduce the hazards of heat stress by:
- Implementing work/rest cycles (i.e., making the job easier and/or lessening its duration by providing adequate rest)
- Opening windows in hot work areas
- Using fans
- Introducing engineering controls (ventilation, heat shielding and air blowers)
- Training workers in the recognition and prevention of heat stress
Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, "Working in Hot Environments"