BEAT THE HEAT AWARENESS
BEAT THE HEAT AWARENESS
Proactively manage your outdoor activities during the summer season
Working outdoors and being exposed to excessive heat is more dangerous than people typically realize. Because employers are responsible for providing their employees with a safe workplace, it is important for employers to develop a Heat Illness Prevention Program when their employees are exposed to working in high temperature conditions.
Spending time outdoors during the summer season, especially in the hotter spots around the world could have a physical toll on our health. The longer we stay in the heat, the more serious are the effects on our health. Symptoms such as heat illness, exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rash are amongst the common milder ones, while severe symptoms include heat stroke or hyperthermia, heat syncope, heat tetany and even fatality at the extreme end of the spectrum.
There could be several risk factors that can contribute to Heat Stress and Illness cases at the workplace such as:
- High temperature and humidity, direct sun exposure, lack of breeze or wind
- An enclosed work environment with poor ventilation
- Heavy physical labour/work activities
- No recent exposure to hot workplaces
- Low liquid fluids intake
- Waterproof or heavy clothing
Here are some tips on how to approach heat stress and illness management the same way Concordia does:
- Assess the risk in actual work environmental (weather) conditions
- Assess the availability of essential resources e.g. water, awareness, restrooms & oral rehydration solution (ORS)
- Assess employees’ health condition
- Execute additional suitable and sufficient measures
- Create awareness among employees by regular training programs and visual posters/videos
- Assess staff uniforms requirements based on their site conditions
Baleshwar Singh – HSEQ Manager, Concordia DMCC
Every summer, attention should be drawn to your operational employees including service providers through regular ‘Beat the Heat’ Awareness program & Toolbox Talks. As a company with a strong background in CSR, Concordia take all suitable measures to ensure employees enjoy a great work environment and suitable working conditions, and in turn, good health.
Such measures include:
- Providing sufficient drinking water at sites and remind the staff to constantly stay hydrated
- Provide oral rehydration solution (ORS) approved by the respective competent authority
- Ensure that cool restrooms facilities are available on sites
- Equip the staff with summer hats and other comfortable clothing based on the site requirements
- Strict compliance with mid-day break rules (between 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm over the period 15th June to 15th September) and basic welfare arrangements at the worksite
- Reschedule all non-essential outdoor work for days with a reduced heat index
- Schedule the more physically demanding work during the cooler times of day
- Schedule less physically demanding work during warmer times of the day
- Rotate workers and split shifts, and/or add extra workers
- Work/Rest cycles, using established industry guidelines
- Emergency response plan in place to notify employees on what is to be done in case of signs of heat stress or illness
- Slowly acclimating newly joined employees to a hot work environment and incorporating work with rest cycles can also be an effective form of prevention
As per the standard risk assessment approach, Concordia takes all possible measures up to ALARP level (“as low as reasonably practicable”) to eliminate the risk of extreme heat and humidity exposure to our employees. The following OSHA guideline can help in determining where the risks are and how to mitigate them.
Technology has made huge strides recently with respect to ‘cooling’ / ‘heat detection’ options available in the market. Some of these latest advancements include:
- Cooling vests
- Hard hat neck shades
- Hard hat cooling pads
- Cooling bandanas
- Cooling towels and wraps
- Pocket heat monitors
- Collapsible buckets
- Hydration packs
Whilst investing in the latest technology provides a certain amount of insurance from heat stress and illness, it is always necessary to be mindful of basics such as keeping sufficiently hydrated, taking sufficient breaks staying comfortably dressed in warm weather conditions.
At Concordia, employees’ health and safety are always on the top agenda. Employees’ wellbeing is monitored all year long with special attention to hazards that arise from working outdoors during the summer season. Concordia strongly believe that proactive heat stress planning and effective management can prevent heat stress-related illness cases, indirect costs of medical treatments as well as long absenteeism. As we all know – “Forewarned is Forearmed”.