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Tag Archives: Heat Stress

Night time, Male worker in uniform is tired and wiping his forehead

How to Manage Fatigue in the Workplace 

Night time, Male worker in uniform is tired and wiping his forehead

Workplace safety includes consideration of long work hours, swing shifts, and other rotating schedules that have an impact on worker fatigue. According to OSHA, almost 15 million American workers have full-time jobs that require evening, night, rotating or other irregular shifts that contributes to worker fatigue. 

It is the employer’s responsibility to provide employees who are working very long shifts adequate breaks and rest time between shifts. It is a manager’s responsibility to recognize when their workers are displaying symptoms of fatigue to avoid injuries and costly damage. Recent news about the prevalence of fatigue in the workplace makes now the right time to discuss how to recognize fatigue and what to do about it.  

“Fatigue causes 13% of accidents in the workplace”

The Dangers of Fatigue in the Workplace 

Fatigue has a direct effect on the workforce. Fatigue affects employees’ memory, balance, concentration, decision-making, and motor skills. Research shows 13% of workplace injuries can be attributed to fatigue, a dangerous byproduct of a society that operates 24 hours a day. In the long term, persistent fatigue and lack of proper sleep can lead to poor employee health, potentially increasing the incidence or severity of issues like diabetes and heart disease.  

Employees often feel the effects of a lack of rest when they commute back and forth to work. Reduced alertness and reaction time both negatively influence driver performance and put workers at risk as they travel to and from job sites each day. 

The frequency with which fatigue occurs in the workplace must be recognized to craft an effective solution. Businesses, alongside the managers, supervisors and EHS specialists that address safety issues, need to look at this as a broad-based problem that could lead to negative consequences at nearly any workplace. 

 Signs of Workplace Fatigue 

Fatigue presents unique challenges for companies, but recognizing the signs of fatigue can help managers to keep employees safe.  Here are seven signs of fatigue:   Continue reading

Keeping Workers Safe in High Heat

Although no specific Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards cover heat stress, the General Duty Clause protects employees against heat-related illnesses due to the hazard’s serious nature.

While most will readily acknowledge it’s important to keep body temperature stable to prevent heat illness or even death, but many don’t recognize the basic factors involved so they can quickly and readily recognize when heat illness is occurring or, better yet, to prevent it in the first place.

Heat Stress Factors

Two primary sources contribute to overheating: (1) environmental conditions and (2) internal heat generated by physical labor. While each factor may not be present every time, a combination of the two could increase risk.

Since the body cools itself through sweating, air temperature is imperative to maintaining a consistent internal temperature. Sweating does not cool the body unless the skin’s moisture can evaporate. However, if the air temperature is warmer than the skin, the body cannot lose heat, and its ability to maintain an acceptable body temperature may be significantly impaired.

Associated Safety and Health Hazards

Safety hazards tend to occur more frequently in high heat/high humidity environments due to many contributing factors, including sweaty palms, dizziness and fogging of safety glasses. In more extreme cases, mental confusion, tiredness and irritability could cause impaired judgment resulting in safety hazards.

Please be aware of certain health hazards that occur more frequently in high heat/high humidity environments, like heat cramps, fainting, heat rash, heat exhaustion and, most dangerous of all, heat stroke.

Heat illness victims should be treated by providing cool water to drink and moving the person to a cool or shaded area—none of which are easy when working in remote locations. Easy and quick options to combat heat illness is to bring onsite cooling trailers equipped with air conditioning or misting fans and have water stations set up around the facility or worksite.

Creating a Work/Rest Schedule

W When possible, more-frequent, shorter periods of heat exposure are better than fewer, longer exposures. Rest periods do not necessarily mean that workers are on break; these can be productive times. During the rest periods, workers may continue to perform mild or light work such as completing paperwork, sorting small parts, attending a meeting, or receiving training.

Work/rest schedules are often based on 1-hour cycles and might call for a rest period of 15 minutes every hour during hot weather, but 45 minutes per hour when temperature and humidity are extreme. Keep in mind that workers wearing flame-resistant cotton or chemical-resistant suits will experience increased body temperature of approximately 10-degrees more than wearing normal work clothing.

The following table acts as a guideline for creating work/rest schedules for workers, assuming the worker is wearing a chemical-resistant suit, gloves, boots and a respirator:

OSHA's Work/Rest Schedule for High Heat Environments

Tips for Prevention

Preventative tips from OSHA (and their website) and many other organizations are available to workers and employers to protect against heat-related illnesses, including awareness of heat illness symptoms and response, adequately utilizing shaded areas for resting, and drinking plenty of cool water.

To learn more about Total Safety and its unwavering commitment to ensure the safe wellbeing of workers worldwide, contact them at 888.44.TOTAL or at mail@totalsafety.com.