Heat illness is fully preventable, yet 11 workers suffer serious heat-related injury or death every day in the United States. Industries such as those involved in process heating involve an inherent risk for heat stress injuries because of the temperature of the operating equipment.
To address and reduce the number of heat stress injuries, in both thermal processing and the industrial workspace overall, the National Heat Safety Coalition developed industrial heat safety recommendations. The 51-member team that developed these guidelines comprised NHSC members, doctors, industry leaders and experts from NIOSH and the U.S. military. According to NHSC, the recommendations focus on “protecting worker health and safety while also ensuring productivity.”
In late August, the country’s first heat safety recommendations and guidance for industrial work were reviewed and accepted by the American Geophysical Union (AGU).
The heat stress guidelines address eight areas NHSC says are key to keeping workers safe in hot conditions:
- Heat hygiene.
- Heat acclimatization.
- Environmental monitoring.
- Physiological monitoring.
- Body cooling.
- Textiles and personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Emergency action plans and implementation.
Approval of the document is the first step in creating a foundation for focused recommendations that consider the particular needs and obstacles that each industry experiences in hot conditions due to location, machinery and difficulty of the labor, says the NHSC.
NHSC is a partnership comprising Magid, a provider of workplace safety PPE, Mission, a manufacturer of cooling textiles and workwear, and researchers at the Korey Stringer Institute (KSI) at the University of Connecticut. The NHSC provides heat safety information, education and treatment recommendations aimed at eliminating heat-related injuries and illnesses in indoor and outdoor industrial workplaces.
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