As part of Vandeventer Black’s participation in Construction Safety Week 2022, and with heat increasing in many places (or staying hot in others), we wanted to remind those in the industry of the importance of heat-related illness prevention, training, and supervision. It remains important for construction companies to have a well-considered heat-related illness prevention plan (HRIPP) and for construction companies to constantly evaluate and consider total heat stress and associated personal risk factors.
Moreover, well-developed training can help positively reduce or prevent heat-related illnesses. Examples include training your workforce in identifying heat-related hazards and signs of heat-related illness. Early recognition can avoid or reduce heat stress symptoms, and regardless assist with more effective first aid for heat-related illness and, when necessary, prompt activation of emergency medical services. Simple measures, like providing cool water, can also help reduce the likelihood of heat-related illness.
It is also important to have on-site, day-to-day supervision of heat-related hazards. Heat conditions can change quickly, so it is important to have someone who is capable of monitoring on-site conditions, identify heat stress situations, and enforce and, when necessary, implement the company’s HRIPP for the variety of heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat syncope, heat rash, and muscle breakdown.
Finally, providing prompt first aid, when needed, is vital. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) supplies additional principles for first aid for heat-related illnesses. Several resources on training for heat-related illness prevention, the importance of on-site supervision, and first aid for heat-related illness are available through OSHA and the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry.