There are certain parts of a factory that get hot and no amount of air conditioning seems to help. Employees often need to work in rooms that have oven, steam pipes, or other heat process equipment. In the summer it can get well over 100F (38C) in some areas, which makes for very uncomfortable and dangerous working conditions in a facility.
Weve been in factories where they had to keep a large supply of sports drinks with electrolytes on hand to keep employees hydrated working near a large oven. The oven put off so much heat that the entire room was just plain hot.
There are also often metal buildings used for warehouses, machine shops, and other uses, and if not insulated properly metal buildings can get very hot during the summer months.
Health hazards when staff are working in hot conditions include heat exhaustion and heat stroke. According to OSHA, thousands of workers become sick from occupational heat exposure every year, and some even die. But these illnesses and deaths are preventable.
There are a number of ways that heat-related illness can be prevented:
- Engineering controls, such as air conditioning and ventilation
- Insulating equipment that is generating heat into the environment
- Insulating buildings, both those that do and do not have air conditioning
- Work practices that include work/rest cycles and hydration
- Knowing the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and being prepared to act