May is designated as heat illness prevention month, and Georgia faces unique challenges due to hot working conditions. The Safety, Health, Environmental Services (SHES) group at Georgia Tech provides support and knowledge to assist companies in getting ready for higher temperatures. They also focus on maintaining workplace safety and wellness of workers through heat stress management.
Recently, the group conducted studies on hard hats and hydration. Their findings revealed the importance of these items in preventing heat illness. Here are a few of their top findings:
Hard Hat Heat Risks
The Head Protection Temperature Study revealed that white hard hats did not differ much in terms of thermal stress. However, darker colored hats experienced higher heat loading because they do not reflect sunlight well. Head protection and heat risks must be taken into account when considering preventive measures. This includes the color, style, and materials of the head protection. Other preventive measures include shade, breaks, and hydration.
Hydration and Fluid Intake
Another study focused on hydration among workers, highlighting room for improvement. The study found that increased monitoring and training were necessary to ensure adequate water intake.
Consumption levels were below the recommended amount. This emphasizes the need for educating workers on hydration. This includes the quantity, frequency, and using weight loss as an indicator of dehydration. By providing hydration sensors in Camelback hydration bladders, researchers observed an increase in water consumption among participants.
Implementing a hydration chart displaying the required water and other fluid intake will effectively communicate this information to employees. Consulting the experts at SHES can help businesses create comprehensive heat illness prevention plans. This will prioritize employee safety and maintain efficiency.
Other ways to prevent heat stress or illness in your workplace, recommended based on the SHES Heat Illness Prevention studies include:
- Learning the symptoms and response procedures.
- Providing training to supervisors and employees on the company’s heat stress prevention procedures.
- Providing periods of rest and shade or air-conditioned space for breaks and set company policies for use of break times.
- Ensuring workers drink plenty of fluids and avoid caffeinated beverages.
- Allowing new and returning workers to build tolerance for the heat and take frequent breaks.
- Using air conditioning and increased ventilation in hot, humid indoor spaces.
- Modifying work schedules to avoid hot days or times of day.
- More methods can be found on the Manufacturing Tipsheet for dealing with heat illness risks in indoor and outdoor work sites
Read the full article on the SHES website and contact your Region Manager for more information on how GaMEP and SHES can help your company prevent heat illness or improve other types of safety at your facility.