Heatstroke can be dangerous, even deadly, for your workers. When it pops up, it can slow, even stop production at your facility. But the consequences can extend far beyond a slowdown or shutdown. You might lose valuable workers and have expensive workers’ compensation benefits and/or premiums to pay. In cases where your facility isn’t adequately prepared to avoid it, heatstroke can potentially lead to negligence claims and lawsuits.
To avoid heatstroke – and allegations of negligence – your facility should implement a heatstroke prevention plan at your industrial facility. Here’s how to do that, along with some helpful tips to make it a success, including the use of an industrial evaporative cooler.
First, you need to design your plan. It should be based on scientific principles to maintain efficiency at your facility while protecting workers. Make sure that you have your plan contained in one document somewhere you can access it for reference.
Tip: You don’t have to create the plan from scratch. OSHA has heat illness resources, and some agencies even provide sample plans. This will make it easier to design your program.
Your next step is to make sure management is on board with your heatstroke prevention plan. Depending on your organization, this might mean just the immediate managers of the facility, or it might go up to the entire C-suite.
Tip: Come prepared to talk costs to management. Use our calculator to see how much your organization might be losing due to heat. Also, come prepared with one or more evocative stories that can help them commit emotionally to your plan.
Once the management team is on board for your heatstroke prevention plan, it’s time to communicate the plan to workers and supervisors. While it’s important that everyone has a role in heatstroke prevention, it can improve the effectiveness if you appoint people to specific positions in the plan (such as calling for water breaks or monitoring coworkers for signs of heatstroke).
Tip: It’s more effective to have several short meetings on the subject, rather than one long one where people will tune out the message. Don’t forget to post the information in one or more visible areas so workers can refresh themselves on details.
Nothing undermines new initiatives faster than failing to provide adequate resources for success. If workers feel you are setting them up for failure, they will not follow through on their part of the plan. For example, if you require water breaks, make sure workers have access to cool water at the facility.
Tip: If your facility is too hot for adequate cooling, you can create a cooldown area with an industrial air cooler even when employees take a break. While air conditioning is the traditional air cooler for offices and white-collar workers, a portable industrial evaporative cooler might work best for your facility. No installation is required, and it can be moved to different parts of the facility as necessary. It can also create a cool zone when it’s impossible or impractical to cool your entire facility.
Don’t expect your plan to be perfect from the beginning. Build in a method for evaluating your plan’s success. Revise the plan as necessary to achieve all your goals.
Tip: Communicate the monitoring plan from the beginning. Encourage people to make suggestions for improving the strategy. However, make it clear how you will evaluate and/or incorporate suggestions.
Heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and more forms of heat illness can be dangerous and expensive for your industrial facility. Portacool can help you avoid the problem with our industrial evaporative coolers. You can either use them to create a cooldown area or even target specific workstations, depending on what’s best for your facility. Portacool evaporative coolers are made here in the USA at our Center, Texas facility. We also use Portacool coolers at our factory, so we know they work, even in hot, humid conditions.
To get a Portacool portable evaporative cooler, please visit a retailer online or in person, or contact us directly for large orders.