Brought to you by Department of Administrative Services Risk Management Services Division
Reduce Your Chances of Heat Stress Injuries
Summer temperatures are on the way, and with this season’s warm weather comes the potential for heat-related injuries. Employees who work in outdoor settings and other severe environmental conditions are at a higher risk for heat-related illnesses and should exercise greater caution by taking appropriate protective measures. You should recognize the hazards and symptoms of heat stress disorders, identify ways to prevent them from occurring, and take corrective actions if these symptoms occur.
Managers and supervisors need to use the following P.A.S.T. steps to prevent heat-related injuries: Plan, provide Access to Water, provide Shade for break areas, and provide proper Training to prevent heat related injuries. Although summer heat is the largest cause of heat distress, it may also occur when workers are exposed to confined areas such as pipelines, shipboard spaces with limited ventilation, or any confined area involving welding or cutting. Heat can increase the risk of injuries as it may result in sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, and dizziness. Burns may also occur as a result of accidental contact with hot surfaces or steam.
Symptoms: The major heat stress injuries and illnesses include heat rash, heat cramps, heat syncope, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. The initial symptoms are mild and usually involve headaches, thirst and tiredness. The symptoms of heat stress disorders are very slow to start, but increase in intensity if precautions are not taken. The six main factors involved in causing heat stress include humidity, clothing, air movement, activity level, temperature and radiant temperature of the surroundings. Adjusting to these factors and/or controlling them reduces the chance of heat stress.
Warning signs of heat exhaustion are heavy perspiration, fatigue and weakness, muscle and body ache, headache, nausea, rapid heartbeat, confusion, loss of consciousness, and vomiting (with or without loss of consciousness). Heat stress can quickly move to heat stroke, a life-threatening medical emergency, when the body’s natural cooling system breaks down and causes the body’s core temperature to rise and overheat the brain. Some of the symptoms of heat stroke are immense thirst, severe headaches, disorientation, dry/hot skin (no sweating) and possibly collapse. Workers who are overweight, 65 years of age or older, suffer from heart disease and high blood pressure, and/or take medications that may be affected by extreme heat are at greater risk of heat stress and should seek and follow medical advice.
Treatment and Prevention: Workers should avoid exposure to extreme heat, sun exposure, and high humidity when possible. When these exposures cannot be avoided, workers should take the following steps to prevent heat stress:
- Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing such as cotton. Avoid non-breathing synthetic clothing.
- Gradually build up to heavy work. Schedule heavy work during the coolest parts of day.
- Until you acclimate to the high temperatures, take frequent cool down breaks in extreme heat and humidity. Take breaks in the shade or a cool area when possible.
- Drink plenty of fluids (water, Gatorade, Powerade, etc.) frequently. Drink enough water that you never become thirsty. Approximately 1 cup every 15-20 minutes.
- Avoid carbonated beverages (soft drinks – Coke, Pepsi, etc., tonic, seltzer and sparkling water) as these drinks only increase dehydration and give a false sense of being properly hydrated.
- Avoid alcohol the evening before the work shift, and drinks with large amounts of caffeine or sugar as they can lead to dehydration even before heat exposure.
- Be aware that protective clothing or personal protective equipment may increase the risk of heat stress.
- Monitor your physical condition and that of your coworkers.
If your co-worker or employee appears to be suffering from heat stress disorder, remove him or her from the heat and provide a cool, shaded place to rest. If they become disoriented or non-responsive, call for medical attention immediately.
Remember, there is no better cure than prevention
Let’s work together to make Georgia a safer place to work!
State Employee Recognition Day is May 8, 2013
The thousands of dedicated individuals who make up the state’s workforce are individuals at all levels of state government who are making a difference for nearly 10 million Georgians every day.
It’s time to show your employees how much you appreciate their service to Georgia. Anyone can recognize their fellow co-workers and employees, and it doesn’t have to cost much or anything at all.
Here are some low cost, no cost recognition ideas:
- Thank your employees/coworkers (Personal hand-written notes, Email that can be saved and forwarded, or a verbal “Great Job!” or simple “Thank you!”)
- Send e-mails to supervisors recognizing their employee (copy the employee)
- Keep a box of blank cards or cards for different occasions in your desk
- Establish “Extra Mile” Awards, “Applause” Awards, etc. Give creative superlatives or titles – Best Phone Voice, Guru of Graphs, Team MVP
- Recognize birthdays and service anniversaries
- Give spontaneous high fives or fist bumps
- Donate goods or services to give as prizes
- Coordinate an after-work get-together
- Bring in homemade or store-bought goodies or organize a potluck to recognize a team’s hard work
- Put employees’ pictures on a bulletin board, or include an article about them in agency newsletters, intranet or internet sites
- Recognize employees demonstrating the agency’s values
- Recognize community service and volunteer work
- Reserve a special parking spot for a deserving employee
- Tie-in teambuilding activities to recognition
- Send reminders to employees to recognize each other
- Award coupons to dress casually
- Create an employee recognition suggestion box
- Announce activities across your organization – not just by section or location
- During team meetings, have members share one thing they value about each team member
- Give a deserving employee a challenging assignment they requested
- Consider opportunities for rotational assignments and job shadowing
- Create computer-generated recognition forms/certificates, signed by senior leader
- Share compliments from the public with an employee and put a copy in their personnel file
- Hold a recognition breakfast, lunch, ice cream party or pizza party. Have supervisors and managers set up, serve, and clean up
- Hold drawings for restaurant, books or music store and movie ticket gift cards
- Award a “traveling trophy” that is given to a different employee each year
- Invite a local dignitary or motivational speaker for an event at the office
- Invite your customers to visit your offices for an after-work drop in to get to know each other better
Recognition is a powerful motivator, and it contributes to higher employee morale, increases organizational productivity, and aids in recruitment and retention.
With tornado season peaking between the months of March and May, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other local emergency agencies are encouraging everyone to start preparing now for these potentially disastrous storms.
GEMA’s Ready Georgia, www.ready.ga.gov, a statewide emergency preparedness campaign, offers tools that residents can use to create an emergency supply kit, develop a communications plan and stay informed about potential threats.
To prepare, plan for and stay informed about tornadoes, Ready Georgia shares the following tips:
Prepare for Tornadoes
- Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify tornado hazards: a tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area; a tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted in your area, and you need to take shelter immediately.
- Determine in advance where you will take shelter in case of a tornado warning.
- Prepare a Ready Kit of emergency supplies, including a first aid kit, NOAA Weather Radio and a three-day supply of food and water.
Plan to Take Shelter
- If local authorities issue a tornado warning or if you see a funnel cloud, take shelter immediately.
- Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.
- If underground shelter is not available, go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
- In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
- Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they attract debris.
- A vehicle, trailer or mobile home does not provide good protection. Plan to go quickly to a building with a strong foundation, if possible.
- If shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
- Stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.
Stay Informed about Tornadoes
- Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
- After a tornado, be sure to remain out of damaged buildings and stay clear of downed power lines.
- Help injured or trapped people. Check on others who may require special assistance, such as the elderly, children and people with disabilities.
A few minutes of preparation can save a life or make you far more comfortable in case of an emergency situation.