The Agony and Ecstasy of Summer
Unlike other areas of the country, Connecticut has been fortunate very pleasant weather so far this summer. There have been few extremely hot and humid days; most have been a balmy 75 to 85 degrees.
But that could soon change as we head into midsummer.
Unfortunately, during the hottest months of the year—typically July and August—outdoor workers run the risk of being a victim of a heat exposure resulting in heat exhaustion or, worse, heatstroke. This is especially true of new workers unaccustomed to working in the heat.
What You Can Do
Amanda Edens, director of OSHA’s Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management, offers the following steps employers can take to protect workers from becoming a heat casualty:
- Institute a heat acclimatization plan and medical monitoring program.
- Encourage workers to drink about 1 cup of water every 15-20 minutes. During prolonged sweating lasting several hours, they should drink sports beverages containing balanced electrolytes.
- Provide shaded or air-conditioned rest areas.
- Provide workers with protective equipment and clothing, such as water-cooled garments, air-cooled garments, hats, ice-packet vests, wet over-garments, and heat-reflective aprons or suits.
- Be familiar with heat illness signs and symptoms, and make sure your employees are too.
- Encourage workers to recognize heat illness symptoms and notify a supervisor or medical professional if they or other coworkers are showing signs. Implement a buddy system where workers observe each other for early signs and symptoms of heat intolerance.
- Download OSHA’s Heat Safety Tool on your iPhone or Android device to help calculate the heat index, a measurement of how it feels when considering humidity.
- Know what to do in an emergency.
A major cause of storm related deaths in the U.S., lightning strikes can result in a cardiac arrest at the time of the injury, although some victims may appear to have a delayed death a few days later if they are resuscitated but have suffered irreversible brain damage.
The U.S. has averaged 49 reported lightning fatalities per year between 1984 and 2013.
Through June of this year, nine lightning fatalities have been reported, two of which occurred while the victims were working—one while loading a truck in Florida, the other at a construction site in Louisiana.
Only about 10% of people who are struck by lightning are killed, leaving 90% with various degrees of disability.
Often overlooked as an occupational hazard, lightning can severely injure or kill workers in outdoor occupations such as construction, logging, utility repair, agriculture, telecommunications, landscaping, airport ground operations, and pool and beach lifeguarding.
OSHA and NOAA have released a Lightning Safety When Working Outdoors fact sheet that provides employers and workers with information about lightning hazards and protective measures that can be taken to ensure workers’ safety.
Photo: NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory
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