forecastIt’s hot. Really hot. And it has been for most of the summer. Many locations across the US have broken heat records, and more are likely to do the same heading in to next week as we transition from July to August. With this heat often comes humidity, pushing the heat index to a potentially dangerous level.

In extreme heat situations, it is important to inform workers of what to expect to ensure they take necessary precautions to remain productive. For example, it has been noted that a decrease of just 1% in hydration can reduce productivity by an average of 12%. Notifying workers of the need to stay hydrated while providing water and frequent breaks will help keep them safe and help keep productivity up.

Exposure to heat is not just a concern for the typical outside or hot work environment; tenants and owners of office buildings should also prepare for extreme heat situations, as the demand of energy during the summer months strains cooling equipment and may increase the need for systematic rolling blackouts. California, for example, has scheduled three rolling blackouts this year and anticipates more since the demand for power is expected to exceed supplies through September. Businesses have no control over the scheduling of these events, but should have alternatives to overcome the lack of power and the increased heat.

To help you identify and reduce the risks of extreme heat exposure in your workplace, Preparis has created an “Occupational Heat Exposure” infographic, which includes the following suggested courses of action based on work environment, as well as the symptoms and first aid recommendations for the three primary heat-related illnesses.

heat exposureLow Heat/Humidity Environments

Office buildings and other typically cool work environments sheltered from heat and humidity should still prepare alternatives for keeping cool in case overused air conditioning equipment fails or there are power outages. These alternatives can include:

  • Installing backup generators;
  • Providing access to ample water;
  • Allowing workers to dress in light clothing (shorts, short sleeved shirts, etc.);
  • Reducing hours of operations or offering the option to work remotely; and
  • Setting up a cooling center within the building.

High Heat/Humidity Environments

Work environments that are typically hot and/or humid, such as manufacturing facilities, construction zones, and building maintenance, place workers at higher risk for succumbing to heat exposure. Businesses operating in these environments should consider the following:

  • Acclimatizing new workers and workers returning from an extended time away to the work environment;
  • Providing access to ample water;
  • Implementing frequent breaks;
  • Increasing ventilation, if possible; and
  • Having workers wear reflective clothing or cooling vests that have pockets for holding cooling packs.

Not providing your workers with the proper training and resources to beat the heat can expose your company to liability. For more information on Extreme Heat, visit the Knowledge Center of your portal, or contact your Customer Success representative for additional ways to prepare.

Marlia Fontaine-Weisse is the Content Manager for Preparis.