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Environmental Health and Safety Blog | EHSWire

Work/Rest Schedules Are Important to Combat Heat Stress

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jul 23, 2015 10:11:00 AM

Work_Rest_Schedules_Are_Important_to_Combat_Heat_StressThe risks of heat stress  are increased when working and being exposed to heat for lengthy intervals throughout a day. To combat these risks, employees should, whenever possible, spread their workload evenly throughout the day, incorporating work/rest cycles. These cycles provide a workers body with the chance to expel extra heat, reduce interior body heat, slow down their heart rate, and increase higher blood flow towards the skin.

For best protection from illness pertaining to heat exposure, all workers should attempt to spend their rest cycles in a cool, shaded area such as an air-conditioned room, vehicle, trailer or similar location. If an air-conditioned location is unavailable, a fully shaded area will suffice.

Rest intervals do not suggest the personnel are on break; during these intervals, employees may remain productive. Mild and gentle tasks such as completing paperwork, organizing small parts, attending a meeting, or obtaining training (e.g., guidelines for forthcoming work, or even a tailgate safety talk) are prefect examples of non-strenuous tasks that may be completed during a heat rest interval.

It is important to have a person who is knowledgeable about heat related sickness on the worksite to oversee all activates and develop a reasonable work/rest schedule. When developing a daily work/rest schedule it is important to lessen work periods and boost relaxation periods when:

  • Temperature rises
  • Humidity increases
  • There is no air movement
  • Equipment or clothing is worn
  • Completing heavier/strenuous work

It is important to assign new and un-acclimatized workers to lighter work along with a longer rest period. As there heat limitations are not yet known, make sure to monitor these individuals closely and watch for any signs of heat stress.

More frequent, shorter periods of exposure to heat are easier on the human body than fewer longer exposures, when feasible. This may require that the job/rest schedules are centered on 1-time rounds and may call for a rest amount of fifteen minutes every hour during hot weather. This can rise to higher levels of rest per hour when heat and moisture are both in excess. It is important to keep in mind that personal needs can vary significantly between employees.

Developing proper work/rest schedules is critical for defending workers against heat stress during their work period. Usually, assistance of an experienced security and health profession is necessary in high risk work environments.

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