If your business operates in locations with a hot climate, it’s crucial to take steps to always keep your employees safe and comfortable.
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Working in a hot climate can be incredibly challenging, and you need to be aware of the potential health risks and do your best to prevent them. This is especially true if your employees are working outside for long periods and are exposed to the sun’s intensity. They can quickly suffer both mental and physical symptoms that can damage their health, happiness and affect their ability to complete basic tasks.
Adopting a practical approach can help keep your employees safe and comfortable in the hot weather. After all, it’s important to be proactive and prevent heat-related illness and other health risks, so your employees can stay healthy and productive. To help, here are some tips for keeping your employees safe in a hot climate.
Understand the WBGT scale
One of the best ways to keep your employees safe in hot climates is to calculate WBGT. This stands for wet bulb globe temperature, a measure of heat stress under direct sunlight. The measurement essentially tells you how extreme the heat is that a person is experiencing in a given place. The usefulness of this should be self-evident.
If you can measure that a location’s hot, you can pre-emptively anticipate whether you need to take action to protect your employees. It also prevents you from unwittingly exposing your staff to horrendous conditions – which could lead to injury or them even suing you.
Provide plenty of water
Dehydration is a common risk in hot weather, so you must ensure your employees are drinking plenty of water. To do this, ensure a healthy water supply is available in the workplace, and encourage your employees to take frequent breaks to hydrate.
You may want to educate them on best practices – such as how often to drink water, how many liters to drink during the day, and whether there are hydration supplements or isotonic drinks they can substitute for water.
Use air conditioning
If your workplace has air conditioning, ensure it is functioning correctly and that your employees have access to it. If your workplace doesn’t have air conditioning, consider installing fans or providing other cooling measures, such as portable air conditioners or misting fans.
By doing this, you will be able to control the temperature far more easily and provide a more pleasant workplace for your employees.
Encourage the use of sunscreen
Sunburn is a common problem in hot weather and can be painful and potentially dangerous. Remind your employees to use sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and to reapply it regularly throughout the day. You might also consider providing sunscreen for your employees or setting up a sunscreen station in the workplace.
Of course, constant exposure to the sun is going to create problems regardless of sunscreen. This is why you need to ensure that your employees to take breaks in the shade or in a cool, air-conditioned area to give their bodies a chance to cool down.
This is especially important for employees working outside or in a physically demanding job. By doing this, you will reduce the chance of health issues and ensure each team member is fully fit and able to complete their daily tasks.
Encourage your employees to dress appropriately for the hot weather by wearing lightweight, light-colored clothing. Although this sounds like a small detail, it can make a huge world of difference to how your team members experience the heat.
The reason for this is that dark colors absorb heat, so lighter colors will help keep your employees cooler. If your employees wear a uniform, then it is your responsibility to adapt the colors to suit the weather conditions. If you operate in a hot location, make sure the uniform has a light color scheme.
Monitor for heat illness
Heat illness is a serious concern in hot weather, ranging from heat cramps to heat stroke. Symptoms of heat illness include dizziness, fatigue, and muscle cramps. It is crucial that you have the ability to prevent these symptoms from occurring. If they do, then you need to make sure you can spot them early before more serious health conditions develop.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your employees, encourage them to take a break in a cool, air-conditioned area and drink plenty of water. If the symptoms persist or worsen, call for medical assistance.