Preventing Heat Exhaustion in Warehousing and Manufacturing

posted on: Wednesday August 17, 2016

Across the nation, this summer has been a hot one.heat exhaustion-513529_1280 This is particularly dangerous for anyone who does manual labor, even if it isn’t outdoors. In fact, material handlers who work in warehouses and other indoor facilities can be at even greater risk because the airflow is minimal and there is no relief from air conditioning. These workers often push themselves, ignoring the signs of heat stress before it’s too late. It is extremely important to know how to prevent this and keep your facility safe through the hot season.

Inform

The most powerful thing you can do to prevent disastrous heat exhaustion is educate your entire staff about it. Hammer the seriousness of the matter so that people are maintaining a self-awareness rather than pushing through discomfort. Make them accountable for each other. If they keep an eye out for signs that heat stress is beginning, your chances of catching it early are better. Some signs to include in your training:

  • Nausea or irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle cramps or weakness
  • Feeling faint
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Thirst
  • Heavy sweating
  • High body temperature

Be sure to cover the various kinds of heat illness, like cramps, syncope, and heat stroke. Just as importantly as identifying heat stress is to know what to do about it. Include first aid or a safety protocol so that your employees can act quickly when they identify a problem.

Hydration and Rest

Dehydration is one of the major culprits of heat illnesses, so ensure your employees have ample access to water. They also need more frequent breaks than other times of the year, and the breaks should be in the coolest, best-ventilated location available. You may consider having employees rotate duties on short schedules to limit their exposure to the most dangerous conditions.

Air Quality

Do everything you can to improve the air quality in your facility. Ventilating hot air from your facility, circulating the air, and dehumidifying will all help improve the working environment.

Minimize Heavy Labor

When possible, replace manual labor with equipment that does the “heavy lifting.” For example, if you have employees pushing carts or equipment back and forth all day, they can become dangerously exhausted very quickly in hot conditions. Using equipment like a battery-powered tug to push and/or pull will greatly increase the employees’ tolerance to the heat. Additionally, most material handling equipment increases productivity by a lot. The ROI is typically short because the equipment makes employees so much more efficient.

Heat illnesses can have damaging and lasting effects. As a facility manager, you should take immediate care of your employees and prevent heat stress. For a more thorough resource on heat exposure, visit OSHA’s page. To learn how a power tug will best assist your employees to be safe and productive, contact Load Mover Inc. We fit companies with material handling equipment that make a huge impact on people and processes. Call us at 952-767-1720 or email info@loadmoverinc.com.