HOW CAN HEAT STRESS BE CONTROLLED IN WORKPLACE?


Heat stress can be controlled through education, engineering, and work procedures. Controls will • Protect health Illness can be prevented or treated while symptoms are still mild.

• Improve safety
Workers are less liable to develop a heat-related illness and have an accident. Heat stress often creeps up without warning. Many heat-induced accidents are caused by sudden loss of consciousness.

• Increase productivity
Workers feel more comfortable and are likely to be more productive as a result. Training and education According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), heat stress training should cover the following components:

• knowledge of heat stress hazards
• recognition of risk factors, danger signs, and symptoms
• awareness of first-aid procedures for, and potential
health effects of, heat stroke
• employee responsibilities in avoiding heat stress
• dangers of using alcohol and/or drugs (including prescription drugs) in hot work environments.

Engineering controls
Engineering controls are the most effective means of preventing heat stress disorders and should be the first method of control. Engineering controls seek to provide a more comfortable workplace by using

• reflective shields to reduce radiant heat
• fans and other means to increase airflow in wo rk areas
• mechanical devices to reduce the amount of physical work.

Given the constantly changing nature of construction sites, engineering controls are not usually feasible. Proper work procedures are therefore required to prevent heat stress disorders.

Work procedures
The risks of working in hot construction environments can be diminished if labour and management cooperate to help control heat stress.

Management
• Give workers frequent breaks in a cool area away from heat. The area should not be so cool that it causes cold shock—around 25°C is ideal.
• Increase air movement by using fans where possible. This encourages body cooling through the evaporation of sweat.
• Provide unlimited amounts of cool (not cold) drinking water conveniently located.
• Allow sufficient time for wo rkers to become acclimatized.

A properly designed and applied acclimatization program decreases the risk of heat-related illnesses. Such a program exposes employees to work in a hot environment for progressively longer periods. NIOSH recommends that for workers who have had previous ex perience in hot jobs, the regimen should be
- 50% exposure on day one
- 60% on day two - 80% on day three
- 100% on day four.

For new workers in a hot environment, the regimen should be 20% on day one, with a 20% increase in exposure each additional day.

• Make allowances for workers who must wear personal protective clothing and equipment that retains heat and restricts the evaporation of sweat.
• Schedule hot jobs for the cooler part of the day; schedule routine maintenance and repair work in hot areas for the cooler seasons of the year.
• Consider the use of cooling vests containing ice packs or ice water to help rid bodies of excess heat.

Labour
• Wear light, loose clothing that permits the evaporation of sweat .
• Drink small amounts of water—8 ounces (250 ml)— every half hour or so. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
• Avoid beverages such as tea, coffee, or beer that make you pass urine more frequently.
• Where personal PPE must be worn,
- use the lightest weight clothing and respirators available
- wear light-colored garments that absorb less heat from the sun
- use PPE that allows sweat to evaporate.
• Avoid eating hot, heavy meals. They tend to increase internal body temperature by redirecting blood flow away from the skin to the digestive system.
• Don’t take salt tablets unless a physician prescribes them. Natural body salts lost through sweating are easily replaced by a normal diet.

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