With temperatures rising, and summer around the corner, precautions should be taken to protect your dealership employees from heat stress, which can cause illnesses, and sometimes even death.
What can cause or contribute to heat illness? High temperatures and humidity, direct exposure to the sun, the lack of a breeze or wind, heavy physical labor, low liquid intake, waterproof clothing, and not being accustomed to a hot workplace.
There are different types of heat illnesses, such as heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat rash, and heat stroke. The symptoms of heat exhaustion are headaches, dizziness, fainting, weakness and wet skin, irritability or confusion, thirst, nausea, and vomiting. The symptoms of heat stroke are confusion, fainting, seizures, and no sweating.
If a worker at risk for heat illness is not alert or is confused, this could be a sign of heat stroke and 911 should be called immediately and ice towels or ice bags should be applied to the employee immediately. If an employee appears to be suffering from any other heat illness, call a supervisor, or 911 if a supervisor is not available, move the employee to a cooler area, provide cool drinking water, remove outer clothing, fan and mist the employee, apply ice bags or ice towels, and stay with the employee until help arrives.
To protect workers at times when there are risks of heat illness, it is important that the dealership implement a heat illness prevention program. This program should be overseen by someone and provide training to employees to recognize the signs of heat illnesses and how to prevent them. Rest periods should become frequent when risk factors are present and cool water should be provided to these workers. Each at-risk worker should be reminded to pay attention to his/her needs, and use a buddy system to monitor one another. If possible, materials should be provided to block out direct sun, and at-risk employees should drink fluids every 15 minutes, even if they are not thirsty. These employees should also avoid drinking beverages that contain caffeine, and wear clothing that is lightweight, light colored, and loose fitting.