Workplace safety is a concern in the modern world because many industries have outgrown their office cubicles. Because of mobile technology, employees may be in a warehouse or out in the field for most of the day. A factor that comes into play right now is weather.
Your workforce must deal with hot weather, especially as the spring and summer months move in. Take a moment to understand the five ways that warm weather affects a safe workplace. The facts might surprise you.
Warm weather affects workplace safety by compromising everyday protocols. Your employees might wear gloves, long sleeves and steel-toed boots on the job. As the temperature rises, employees slowly peel those items off. With no gloves on and shorts worn in lieu of pants, your employees are instantly vulnerable to injury.
Equipment maintenance might be on the to-do list today, which involves crawling across a machine or vehicle. Without the proper clothing, injuries occur that are otherwise avoided. Dropped items on exposed toes and singed fingers could occur.
As one person peels off their protective clothing, the rest of the workforce sees an opportunity for themselves. Workplace psychology dictates that one person will emulate another. Removing any protective clothing on one employee will only encourage others to follow suit.
The heat plays with the mind as the temperature and humidity increase. Workplace safety is definitely compromised in the heat because the natural, human tendency is to focus on the physical strain.
You might worry about sweating too much in your work clothes or looking for a sip of water. Concerns over operating a machine or helping a client will take second place to the heat stress. This lack of attention quickly leads to accidents in the workplace.
Forklifts might be in operation where the heat is the worst. The operators aren’t paying attention to the warehouse floor. Consequently, warehouse workers are focusing on the heat instead of their proximity to the machines. Collisions, mishaps and other issues are now at the forefront of concerns for any managers.
When the temperatures rise, a safe warehouse isn’t on workers’ minds. Although they may try to fight the fatigue, heat stress significantly reduces productivity. Workers’ bodies will sweat while slowing the heart rate down. The body is trying to cool off by reducing movements in the heat. Workplace safety continues to suffer as long as the heat remains steady. Slow productivity leads to mistakes that are resolved with even slower movements.
Ideally, workers should take multiple breaks during the hottest part of the day. Drinking plenty of water will help their productivity levels, but they won’t return to normal. Managers might consider an earlier starting time. When the sun rises early in the spring and summer, starting work at 6 a.m. is a clever idea. Workers break for lunch or stop activities altogether as the hottest part of the day settles in.
Workplace safety is also an issue as the heat increases because medical conditions become aggravated. Some of your employees may have heart-related diseases. These hard workers are often under medical care, but they offer some of the best productivity in the industry. When the heat rises, however, these medical conditions show their true colors.
It’s not unheard of for a heart attack or diabetic episode to occur at the workplace when the employees are under medicinal care. Heat stress is incredibly stressful on the body, and it simply triggers ailments to rear their ugly heads. If any employees appear pale or faint, they need water and cooler conditions right away.
Some of your employees may work in the field for most of the day. Workplace safety becomes an issue when their skin isn’t protected with either sunscreen or clothing. Ideally, they should be wearing long sleeves and pants when all-day work is part of the plan.
Clothing protects the skin and keeps it cool. You might see issues with heat stress when the workers remove part of their clothing in the sun. A sunburn is difficult to see as it develops so the person will work well until the stress suddenly strikes them.
Encourage breaks throughout the day with water available at all times. Provide sunscreen if necessary along with extra clothing so that everyone is protected from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.
If you have any concerns about safe warehouse practices, contact us today with your questions. Alleviating difficult conditions is the main goal when it’s hot outside. Workplace safety must change with the times so that your employees are as comfortable as possible.