The Risk of Summertime Heat to Worker and Patron Safety
July 19, 2016
by Jason R. Anderson
With July comes the most oppressive, continuous heat of the summer, which is a danger to outdoor workers and activities. The current conditions across the Central and Eastern US only validate July is here in full force. The combination of heat, humidity and outdoor tasks can make patrons and workers ill and cause significant impacts to productivity. Outdoor workers in security, construction, logistics, entertainment etc., are at the most risk. Managers should remain aware of predicted (up to a week in advance) and/or occurring heatwaves, to proactively manage work schedules and provide workers the resources needed to battle the heat. An additional consideration is to bring on larger crews to meet mission critical timelines or project milestones.
In 2015, 45 people died from exposure to heat exhaustion in the United States. To understand the risk from heat, the National Weather Service computes the daily heat index for all locations across the county. The heat index is a calculation of how hot it feels to a person as a measurement of relative humidity combined with the temperature. For example, during an afternoon with a daytime temperature of 94 degrees and a humidity of 50%, it will actually feel like a 103 degrees to any person outside. This can be further enhanced if a person is in direct sunlight with no shade which can increase the heat index by another 15 degrees. Whenever the heat index reaches the mid to upper 90s, the human body struggles to cool naturally, causing workers to overheat and dehydrate more quickly and drastically.
On Saturday July 17th, an event at the National Mall in Washington DC, which had been scheduled to last 12 hours until 9 pm, was cancelled by the park service at 4 pm after over 350 calls for heat related injuries. Emergency services were overwhelmed by the number and frequency of the calls and were forced to cancel the event to protect the participants. The organizers were well-positioned with water stations and a fire hydrant to cool the crowd, but it was simply not enough.
So what can be done to prevent injuries from heat?? The National Weather Service has provided some tips:
For both public and professional groups, whether those hosting an event or those whose job requires them to work outside, our expert TruWeather Solutions Meteorologists can help your organization with event safety planning and provide solutions to minimize the risk to your personnel or patrons. Our 24/7 team will create and provide a daily threat matrix for today and future days, so that the moment you enter your job site, you will know exactly what your risk from heat is and how best to respond and protect your valuable assets, workers and patrons. Remember, it’s not just lightning, winds, hail and heavy rains that can harm your operations, heat and sun can be just as dangerous this time of year.
Don’t be afraid or caught unaware, be weather aware!