Trends in ... heat protection
‘The time to start planning is now’
In September, OSHA announced the start of a multipronged approach to protecting workers from extreme heat exposure – indoors and outdoors.
The next month, the agency published a proposed rule and asked for comment. As OSHA continues to consider those comments, it has launched a National Emphasis Program on heat hazards.
As part of the NEP, which began in April and is slated to remain in effect until April 2025, OSHA will conduct heat-related inspections in more than 70 “high-risk” industries when the National Weather Service issues a heat warning or advisory for a local area.
So, what can employers do to be proactive when temperatures climb?
“While we’re all keeping our eye on new laws and on guidelines from OSHA, the time to start planning is now,” says Adrianna Carrera, product management specialist for Magid in Romeoville, IL.
“Every year, workers become sick and die working in extreme heat and humid conditions,” said Sylvia Allen, founder of StaCool Industries Inc. in Lecanto, FL. “Several heat illnesses can come on very quickly, regardless of your age or physical condition.”
This is where heat protection products – which Carrera called an essential part of a complete heat safety program – come in.
“Heat illness is a pervasive problem that’s expected to get worse in the coming years,” she said.
Added Allen: “Over the years, employers have become more in tune with heat-related injuries, and with the recent innovations in heat protection, they now have the means to protect workers from extreme heat conditions.”
Among those innovations are individual cooling products that can reduce the body’s core temperature and cooling personal protective equipment that can be activated and reactivated with water.
“Employers need to do the research for the product that will work best in their conditions,” Allen said.
Added Carrera: “We find that safety professionals understand the risks and the problems very well, but they’re often frustrated with lack of information, misinformation and even contradictory information that’s out there for them. The technology and the information are out there.”
Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association
Coming next month:
- Hand protection