Here in Louisiana, the summer heat can be unbearable. In order to protect your employees and keep them comfortable, OSHA suggests that you keep your indoor workplace between 68 and 78 degrees. OSHA regulations kick in when your building temperature greatly exceeds or drops below the suggested temperatures, causing hypothermia or heat exhaustion. While you may personally think that the temperature is fine, employees of yours that take medication are more susceptible to temperature-related health issues, and a lawsuit can arise should you be found responsible for their health problems.
Defining “Extreme” Temperatures
In order to decipher just how extreme your workplace temperatures can get, OSHA will conduct an audit using heat stress monitors. These monitors not only measure temperature, but also humidity, amount of radiating heat, and air circulation. The effect of these factors combined and their effect on your workers’ ability to retain a healthy body temperature is how OSHA determines extreme temperatures.
Trouble starts to occur once your body temperature reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and can cause your workers to perform inadequately. Extreme consequences and hefty fines can occur if you are found to be in violation of OSHA’s temperature regulations, so it’s important to be vigilant.
Heat Stress Warning Signs
Heat stress can be defined as the amount of heat that your body is subjected to, either from your own body or an external heat source. OSHA offers a helpful PDF demonstrating the effects of heat stress, which can be viewed here. Along with the two heat stress disorders mentioned in the PDF (heat exhaustion and heat stroke), OSHA also recognizes heat rash, fainting or heart collapse, heat fatigue, and heat cramps as heat stress disorders.
A heat rash is a result of sweat that does not evaporate, and is visible on the skin of the afflicted. When the body loses too much sweat, this loss of salt causes heat cramps. Overheating can also cause the brain’s oxygen supply to be cut off, which in turn can cause the heart to collapse and the person to faint. Excessive heat can also result in impaired sensory skills, which is referred to as heat fatigue. All of these issues can contribute to work related accidents.
Protecting Yourself and Your Workers
In order to protect yourself and your workers in this Louisiana heat, it’s imperative that you seek regular maintenance for your HVAC system and its ventilation, have fans and lots of water readily available, and offer cool rest areas for outside workers. If you can do so without compromising your workers’ safety, OSHA suggests that you change the summer dress code to include loose, lightweight clothing. For outside workers, OSHA recommends starting the workday as early as possible to reduce the time spent exposed to the sun’s heat.
You can never be too safe. At Delta Administrative Services, we can help you reduce your risk and remove liability. To make absolutely sure that you’re in compliance with OSHA’s regulations this summer, let us perform a mock audit. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help!