Manufacturing facilities can be quite warm even in the dead of winter, with so many machines running for hours on end. In the summer, ambient temperatures combine with indoor conditions to create even more dangerous situations for workers, and it's incumbent upon employers to ensure the situation remain as safe as possible.
With that in mind, there are plenty of ways to go about this, and below are just a few of the best practices for operating a safe manufacturing facility as temperatures rise nationwide:
1) Mandate appropriate clothing
When temperatures spike, employees may be more apt to choose light, airy clothing to wear to work, but it's important that when they're actually working, their attire is as protective as possible, according to the Occupation Safety and Health Administration. While most manufacturing workers wouldn't try to wear shorts and sandals on the factory floor, it's important for employers to provide breathable, light materials that are still safe to wear.
2) Ensure workers take frequent hydration breaks
This should go without saying, but companies need to establish a policy that allows workers to take breaks to sit in a cool room and drink cold water on a regular basis, OSHA added. Some experts recommend these breaks happen as often as every 15 minutes, and while that may not always be feasible in a factory setting, these accommodations still need to be made frequently.
3) Make sure new hires are used to the conditions
With so many manufacturers hiring on a regular basis these days, it's important to make sure new employees are used to how difficult conditions can sometimes get, according to Industrial Safety & Hygiene News. As such, it's critical to ease them into normal duties during the summer, and have them monitored by medical professionals throughout an introductory period of, perhaps, two weeks or more.
4) Keep it cool
Whenever feasible in summer, factories should be kept at the lowest temperature possible so workers don't run into serious health issues, ISHN suggested. Even if maintaining a temperature of, say, 75 degrees on the factory floor isn't feasible, having a break room that's appropriately cool is a must when it comes to helping manufacturing employees beat the heat, stay healthy and maintain strong operational efficiency and safety.
5) Watch out for heat-related health issues
Because many factory workers may be reluctant to seek medical attention or even stop working when they're in distress, their colleagues need to look out for them, according to the Houston Chronicle. Whether it's simple dehydration - exhibited through extreme thirst, dry skin, dizziness, etc. - or something more serious like heat stroke - with its attendant confusion, cramping, and so on - employees must be able to identify the warning signs of heat-related problems.
The more factory supervisors can do to ensure their facilities have the right strategies in place to combat heat-related risks, the better off they will be when it comes to maintaining a strong safety record all summer long.
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