Top summer safety hazards for outdoor workers

You are currently viewing Top summer safety hazards for outdoor workers

Which of these summer safety hazards do your outdoor workers face?

  1. What are the top summer safety hazards? It depends on your geographic location, but they include heat stress, wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and more.
  2. Heat illness isn’t just a concern for outdoor workers – but also others who work in heat conditions such as firefighters or factory workers.
  3. Incidents of wildfires grow larger in number and in territory ablaze each year.
  4. Hurricanes and tornadoes are also increasing in occurrence and intensity.
  5. Learn preparation steps for each of these summer safety hazards.

Excessive heat. Wildfires. Tornadoes. Hurricanes. Have you prepared your workers for these summer safety hazards? Add to those hazards the fact that days are longer, with more workable hours. Workers are headed back to the worksite or are starting new jobs. The threat of the delta variant of COVID-19 lingers on. What steps can you take to protect your workforce, particularly your new workers who’ve never summered with you before?

 

Heat illness

“When each new summer becomes ‘the hottest summer on record,’ protecting employees from heat stress continues to be a challenge,” says EHS Daily. If your company is in agriculture, construction, landscaping or any other outdoor industry, your top summer safety hazard may be heat stress.  It’s crucial for you to monitor heat advisories from the National Weather Service.

Workers at risk of heat illness also include anyone in hot environments such as firefighters, bakery workers, boiler room workers, factory workers and others. Employees at greater risk of workplace heat stress include those who are overweight or 65 years of age or older, have heart disease or high blood pressure, or take medications that may be affected by extreme heat.

New workers or those unaccustomed to working in high temperatures need to acclimatize to the heat, taking time to build up a tolerance for hot conditions. Newer outdoor workers need to consume adequate amounts of liquid, start off with shorter shifts and learn how to recognize heat illness symptoms.

Learn more about the types of heat illness and their symptoms, plus how to enact a workplace heat illness prevention program, in our earlier blogpost.

 

Wildfires

Currently, more than 300,000 acres are burning in wildfires across 10 states. Drought conditions exist in 20 states, ranging from moderate to exceptional drought, creating the perfect storm for wildfires. While wildfires can occur all year long, they ignite most often in summer and fall months, making them one of the summer safety hazards in western, southwestern or midwestern states. Employers need to have in place a wildfire preparedness plan, including plans for evacuation, assigned roles and a chain of command, plus specified exits and evacuation routes. Wildfire smoke can carry hundreds of miles away, creating a respiratory hazard, even if you’re not near a fire danger. Your outdoor workers may need to work shorter shifts or be moved to an area with better air quality.

If you have a facility in a fire-prone region, you need to ensure that your HVAC system is working properly and air filters are clean. We recommend checking with your HVAC technician about the highest filtration rating your HVAC system will support and use the highest rating possible when smoke is present.

Producers, review these wildfire safety tips for businesses with your commercial clients.

 

Hurricanes

Another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season has been predicted by NOAA for this year. According to NOAA, an average hurricane season produces 14 named storms, of which 7 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes. Inarguably, hurricanes rate at the top of summer safety hazards.

Last week researchers from Colorado State University boosted their prediction for named tropical storms in the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. They now predict 20 named storms, up from 17 in their April forecast. The forecasters also increased the number of expected hurricanes to nine from eight, with four major hurricanes.

If your business is located along the Eastern Seaboard or Gulf Coast, preparation is key. Your emergency plan should include an evacuation plan, assignments as to who will perform emergency functions such as shutting down machinery and utilities, and how you’ll account for employees, customers and visitors.

In a hurricane’s aftermath, employees face a new onslaught of hazards: electrocution, cuts, falls and subsequent infection from high water, wildlife hidden in structures and more. Employers also need a safety plan post-hurricane.

Review our ways to protect your business from hurricane damage plus additional safety tips for business recovery after a hurricane.

 

Tornadoes

Tornadoes sometimes can be more dangerous than hurricanes, primarily because they often occur with little-to-no warning. Of the 1,200+ tornadoes that touch down in the U.S. annually, truly violent ones account for only two percent of the total. However, they cause 70 percent of all tornado deaths. That means every warning of an impending tornado should be treated with the same life-or-death urgency.

Statistics show that each year, an average of 227 people are killed by tornadoes, which wreak $1.086 billion in damage annually. They can generate wind speeds of up to 200 mph, creating damage up to one mile wide and 50 miles long.

If your business is located in a tornado-prone area, we’ve compiled tornado safety tips that you should take seriously.

 

Worksite fatigue

New workers (and older ones as well) need to be made aware of additional stresses and strains on their bodies. Standing for long periods can not only cause sore feet and backaches, but swelling of the limbs, bunions, extra pressure on the joints and plain ol’ fatigue. These ailments can affect employee performance, mental capacity, eventually leading to heart disease or other declining health conditions over time.

View our blogpost on how employers can help prevent worksite fatigue.

 

Resources:

Are You Ready to Get Ahead of Summer Safety Hazards?
Promoting a culture of worksite safety