Safety Coalition Combats Industrial Heat Stress

Safety Coalition Combats Industrial Heat Stress
Plant Engineering August 2021
By National Heat Safety Coalition (NHSC)

Heat illness is 100% preventable, yet 11 workers suffer serious heat-related injury or death every day in the United States. Without federal standards for preventing heat illness on the job, the problem persists and stands to increase dramatically as the climate warms. At an average cost of $54,000 per heat prostration incident, the cost to families, employers and the economy could become catastrophic.

The country’s first heat safety recommendations and guidance for industrial work were reviewed and accepted by the renowned scientific organization, AGU. Led by researchers at the Korey Stringer Institute (KSI) at the University of Connecticut, the 51-member team that developed these guidelines was comprised of NHSC members, doctors, industry leaders and experts from NIOSH and the U.S. Military. The team’s recommendations focus on “protecting worker health and safety while also ensuring productivity.”

The NHSC is a partnership between Magid, MISSION and KSI to serve as the country’s leading institute for industrial heat safety, research and advocacy. The NHSC provides heat safety information, education and treatment recommendations aimed at eliminating heat-related injuries and illnesses in both indoor and outdoor industrial workplaces.

Eight best practices for worker safety

The document addresses eight areas that are key to keeping workers safe in hot conditions:

  1. Heat hygiene
  2. Hydration
  3. Heat acclimatization
  4. Environmental monitoring
  5. Physiological monitoring
  6. Body cooling
  7. Textiles and personal protective equipment (PPE)
  8. Emergency action plans and implementation.

Matt Block, Director of Health and Safety Services at Magid and NHSC board of advisors member said in a press release, “The group recognized that employers would be reluctant to adopt new policies and procedures if they had an undue impact on productivity. The irony of this crisis is that heat illness actually reduces productivity and is completely preventable if employers take some fairly inexpensive measures. The lack of solid national guidelines has been the biggest obstacle to keeping people safer and preventing tragedies.”