PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--According to the National Climatic Data Center, 175 Americans die annually due to the effects of summer heat. Additionally, heat takes more lives than lightning, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or earthquakes.1 Over the 40-year period spanning 1936-1975, nearly 20,000 people were killed in the U.S. due to the effects of heat and solar radiation. ESIS, Inc., (“ESIS®”), the risk management services company of ACE USA, recently released a top ten list of precautions outdoor workers should take when exposed to hot weather.
“In addition to the direct effects of heat stress, the frequency of accidents tends to be higher in hot environments because of reduced mental alertness and physical performance. Increased body temperature and physical discomfort may induce irritability and anger, all of which may cause workers to overlook safety procedures or to become distracted from hazardous tasks,” said Allen Abrahamsen, Assistant Vice President, Construction Safety Services for ESIS Global Risk Control Services.
As environmental temperatures approach normal skin temperature, cooling of the body becomes more difficult. Under these conditions, sweating is the primary method of maintaining a constant body temperature. With so much blood going to the external surface of the body, less goes to the active muscles, the brain, and other internal organs. Strength declines and fatigue occurs sooner. Alertness and mental capacity may also be affected. Workers performing detailed work may experience difficulty and others may find comprehension and retention of information decreasing. Exposures to a hot work environment can result in heat-induced disorders including: heat stroke; heat exhaustion; heat cramps; fainting; heat rash; and transient heat rash.
TOP TEN PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE WHEN EXPOSED TO HOT WEATHER
1. Prepare for the Heat. The body can adjust to heat in 5-7 days, so a gradual exposure to heat gives the body time to acclimate to higher temperatures. Heat disorders are more likely to occur in those who are not given time to adjust.
2. Ensure that you are aware of symptoms of heat-related stresses: Headaches, dizziness, or light-headedness, weakness, mood changes, irritability or confusion, nausea/vomiting, fainting, decreased and dark-colored urine, and pale, clammy skin.
3. Wear light, loose-fitting, breathable clothing, where appropriate for the activities being performed. Clothing reduces the body's ability to lose heat into the air.
4. Do not wait to be thirsty. In a day's work in the heat, a worker may produce as much as 2 to 3 gallons of sweat, dehydrating the body. Drink 5 to 7 ounces of fluids every 15 to 20 minutes to replenish the necessary fluids in the body.
5. Avoid salt tablets. The average American diet has plenty of salt for a worker adjusting to a hot job.
6. Seek the shelter of cool rest areas, which considerably reduces the stress of working in those environments. A rest area with a temperature near 76 F appears to be adequate. Short but frequent work-rest cycles are most effective.
7. Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages during prolonged periods of heat - this can cause additional dehydration.
8. Consult with a physician if taking certain drugs such as medicines for blood pressure control, diuretics, or water pills to determine if any side effects could occur during excessive heat exposure.
9. Adjust your schedule. When feasible, perform the most stressful tasks during the cooler parts of the day (early morning or at night). Avoid double shifts and overtime, and extend rest periods.
10. Use the buddy system. Always work in pairs when working in extreme weather conditions so partners can monitor one another and obtain help quickly in an emergency.
According to Mr. Abrahamsen, the impact of hot weather on the health of employees, as well as quality and productivity is often underestimated. "Because working in the heat is an indirect factor to getting the work done on time and within budget, better preparation for dealing with hot weather can be a key contributor of increased safety, quality, and productivity."
Heat stress and its consequences can develop gradually. Symptoms may go undetected until a worker’s health or life is in danger. These tips can help employers and employees to protect themselves against heat stress exposure and injury on the job.
ESIS Global Risk Control Services is widely respected within the construction industry for its emphasis on proactive measures, strong focus on client education, and solid expertise in lessening the potential for risk. Their "hands on" experience of more than 54 years of loss control activities enable the engineer to assist in developing solutions that can be effective in the unique environment of outside work activities. For more information on ESIS Global Risk Control Services and ESIS’ continually growing suite of global services, please contact Allen Abrahamsen at (570) 897-7374 or visit www.esis.com.
For more information on the ESIS suite of products and services, please visit www.esis.com.
Organized in 1953, ESIS, Inc. (ESIS) provides sophisticated risk management services designed to help reduce our clients’ total cost of loss. ESIS takes a holistic approach that blends people, process and technology to offer programs that are customized to meet each client’s needs. ESIS is part of ACE USA, the U.S.-based retail operating division of the ACE Group of Companies, headed by ACE Limited (NYSE: ACE). ACE USA is rated A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best Company and A+ (Strong) by Standard & Poor’s. ACE USA, through its underwriting companies, provides insurance products and services throughout the U.S. Additional information about ACE USA and its products and services can be found at www.ace-ina.com. Additional information about ESIS, Inc. and its products and services can be found at www.esis.com. The ACE Group of Companies provides insurance and reinsurance for a diverse group of clients around the world.