Summer has arrived in the U.S., and with it comes some blisteringly hot temperatures. That means workers are at risk, especially considering that many are out of shape after returning to work following the pandemic.
Heat stress is always a concern during the summer months, and this year is no different. Actually, it may be a little worse in 2021 with record-breaking, triple-digit temps already afflicting some western states.
To make matters worse, employees who have been in quarantine for months thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic may be returning to work out of shape and certainly not acclimated to the summer heat.
Further, while mask mandates may be lifting around the country thanks to COVID vaccines, some workplaces may still require them for a variety of reasons.
Wearing a mask is like wearing a scarf in winter – the cloth keeps body heat close, which is something you don’t really need or want in extreme heat.
One thing law firm Seyfarth Shaw recommends to help employers with keeping workers safe in extreme heat is reviewing the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) webpage on heat stress, which offers guidance on:
- how to spot heat-related illnesses
- how to limit the heat burden when wearing PPE, and
- recommendations for controlling heat stress.
Also, keep in mind which workers may be most at risk of falling to a heat-related illness. Those more at risk include people who are:
- 65 years of age or older
- have heart disease or high blood pressure, or
- take medications that cause sensitivity to extreme heat.