How Can Businesses Take Steps To Protect Employees from Heat Stroke and Lightning Hazards?

As temperatures rise and storms roll in, it's essential for employers to prioritize safety in the workplace to prevent weather-related incidents like heat stroke and lightning injuries. All businesses whether operating primarily outdoors or indoors, should understand the risks and take proactive measures that can make all the difference in ensuring the well-being of employees.

Incidents such as lightning strikes and excessive heat pose significant risks to employee safety in the workplace, which can result in significant workers' comp claims. By proactively addressing weather-related hazards, employers can reduce the likelihood of workplace injuries and workers' comp claims while safeguarding the health of their employees.

Here are some valuable tips every business should keep in mind:

1) Proactively Monitor Weather Conditions To Reduce Work Place Injuries:

Employers should keep an eye on weather forecasts and be prepared for sudden changes in weather, especially during the spring and summer months.

Try creating a comprehensive weather-related safety plan that outlines procedures for responding to thunderstorms and lightning threats. Procedures should include seeking shelter indoors or in a fully enclosed vehicle and avoiding open fields, tall trees, and bodies of water during storms. If employees are working on a roof, for example, they are particularly exposed to lightning strikes and are at a higher risk. These businesses need to evaluate where and when employees will be most prone to spring and summer storms.

Various weather monitoring tools and smartphone apps are available to track lightning activity in real time. Encourage employees to stay informed about lightning strikes in the area and take appropriate precautions to stay safe. My Lighting Tracker & Alerts is a top app (it’s free!) and will send notifications when strikes are detected locally. The best time to take shelter is before the storm rolls in, as opposed to rushing off a job site to avoid a potentially dangerous situation.

2) Adapt Work Schedules to Make Employees Safer

Working in extreme heat or during periods where lightning is more likely can lead to exposed risk, fatigue, and decreased productivity, which puts employees at greater risk of accidents and injuries.

A company can modify work schedules to include more frequent breaks and shorter shifts during peak heat hours, which can help prevent fatigue and ensure employees remain alert and focused. Experiment with flexible scheduling to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Or schedule outdoor work during the early morning or late afternoon when temperatures are cooler, and provide longer breaks during the hottest times of the day to allow employees to cool down.

Or go even bigger by offering occasional wellness days or half-days during particularly hot weather, allowing employees to take time off to rest, relax, and recharge away from the heat. Overall, adapting work schedules during hot days not only enhances employee morale and productivity but also reinforces a positive workplace culture centered on employee care and support. It can also save your business significant costs on workers’ comp insurance premiums by reducing illnesses and injuries.

3) Find Creative Ways To Keep Employees Safe During Hazardous Weather

Cooling devices like air conditioning and fans are valued amenities that contribute to a healthier, happier, and more productive workplace. But they aren’t always available at businesses, particularly in smaller or older establishments, or in outdoor or temporary work environments. A company can still take various steps that will go a long way in making employees feel more comfortable during hot days in addition to keeping them safe.

If a workspace has a central HVAC system, ensure that it is in good working condition and schedule regular maintenance to keep the system running efficiently. But if central air conditioning is not available or is insufficient, consider using portable air conditioners to cool specific areas of the workspace. Portable fans or misting fans can be used to circulate air and create a cooling breeze. Make sure fans are strategically in areas where employees are working to help lower the perceived temperature and provide relief from the heat.

When working outdoors in hot weather, traditional air conditioning probably isn’t feasible. Set up shaded outdoor areas with misting fans, cold towels, and cooling stations stocked with cold beverages and snacks to provide employees with a refreshing break from the heat. Provide employees with cooling neck wraps or bandanas that can be soaked in water and worn around the neck to help lower body temperature and provide relief from the heat. These steps can go a long way in reducing workplace injuries from excessive heat ultimately saving the business money.

4) Encourage Workers To Wear Weather - Appropriate clothing

Employers should encourage employees to wear lightweight, breathable clothing that allows sweat to evaporate and helps regulate their body temperature. Sometimes that will mean implementing a flexible dress code policy that allows employees to dress comfortably for the weather, such as wearing more casual attire suitable for hot temperatures.

Opting for light colors will reflect sunlight rather than absorbing it. Post simple reminders in common areas or vehicles reminding employees to protect themselves from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and applying sunscreen. 

5) It’s Important To Monitor Employees For Signs Of Overheating

As an employer, it's essential to be vigilant and proactive in monitoring your employees for signs of overheating, especially during hot weather or when working in environments with high temperatures.

Some of the first signs of heatstroke may include; excessive sweating, flushed or red skin, complaints of feeling hot, fatigue or weakness, and increased thirst.

Since it can be time-consuming (and not to mention pretty awkward) for employers to monitor for these signs, try conducting regular wellness check-ins with employees throughout the day, either in person or through digital platforms. Encourage employees to self-report any symptoms of heat-related illnesses they may be experiencing, such as dizziness, nausea, or weakness, and provide immediate assistance if needed.

One company organized hydration challenges to encourage employees to drink more water throughout the day. They offered rewards or incentives for reaching hydration goals to promote healthy habits. Not only did the competitions keep employees hydrated, but it also provided the employer with opportunities to routinely check in with employees during hot days. 

6) Report Weather Related Workplace Injuries In A Timely Manner

Following the recommendations above can help reduce the likelihood of weather-related incidents, but not all cases are preventable. When an incident does occur, prompt reporting allows employers to provide immediate medical attention and support to the injured employee, reducing the severity of the injury and preventing potential complications.

Employers should develop comprehensive training on incident reporting procedures, which empowers employees to effectively communicate details about accidents, injuries, near misses, or hazardous conditions that occur on the job. 

By making reporting part of the company culture, employees are more likely to actively participate, retain information, and feel motivated to apply their skills in real-world situations. Plus, properly completed incident reports serve as valuable documentation for investigating the root causes of incidents and could play an important role in a workers’ compensation claim.

As an employer, it’s important to also be prepared for when incidents do happen. Employers must navigate the intricacies of workers' compensation laws and regulations, handle claims processing and paperwork, and communicate with insurance providers and legal representatives on behalf of the employer. 

One way that employers stay ahead of workplace injuries and their associated costs is to partner with an Administrative Services Organization (ASO) like Alloy Employer Services to take care of these Human Resources (HR) back-office services.

Alloy Employer Services has a honed master policy for handling workers' compensation that may result after an incident. We make sure the employer is protected when incidents, like weather-related ones, do occur. We also ensure injured employees receive better care and work with the employer to make sure all of the proper documentation has been completed. Plus, Alloy Employer Services also help businesses protect themselves from fraudulent injury claims. 

Contact us today to learn more and save money on your workers' compensation expenses.



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