For many businesses, heat stress is an issue all year round and not just in the summer. Aiken works with many businesses that are continuously keeping an eye on temperatures to avoid heat stress, but for those who only experience it during the summer months, heat stress can be difficult to deal with.
Working safely is important and it’s an employers’ responsibility to reduce the risk of heat stress in the workplace. Here, we offer some tips on how to avoid heat stress…
Heat stress occurs when the body absorbs too much heat. This causes stress, illness exhaustion and heat stroke, which could become serious. It tends to be triggered by air temperature, excess clothing, work rate or humidity. The body reacts to heat stress by sweating, which helps to cool the temperature of the body.
Heat stress in the workplace can lead to a reduction in productivity by causing:
In extreme circumstances, it can lead to a loss of consciousness. Some of these symptoms can result in sick-leave.
Control the temperature
Cool conditions down by investing in a good air conditioning system. Make sure it works properly and is serviced regularly. Some temporary solutions could be used to reduce the temperature of a workplace, such as using a fan, opening windows and doors, closing curtains/blinds to reduce direct sunlight. Do be aware that many of these may have other side-effects, such as noise and air quality issues.
Provide cool water in the workplace for employees and encourage workers to drink it frequently throughout their shift.
Educate Staff on Heat Stress
Run bitesize training sessions to raise awareness of Heat Stress and to encourage workers to report any issues with temperature. These can also be used to promote good health and the importance of hydration.
Provide Protective Equipment
Specialist clothing can be purchased that is made with breathable fabrics and can incorporate cooling systems. This could be a good investment for businesses that have year-round issues with over-heating in the workplace.
Employers should identify employees who are more susceptible to heat stress. This could be women who are menopausal or pregnant or those who have heart conditions or illnesses that react to over-heating. Seek advice from an occupational health professional.
By looking after your staff and keeping temperatures reasonable within the workplace, the business is sure to reap the rewards. It should make staff will happier, improve their motivation and increase productivity….all in all, making your business more lean.
So, keep cool this summer. Invest in your business and look after your staff!
For more guidance on heat stress, visit HSE’s website.