SHELTER-IN-PLACE ORDERS COULD LEAD TO MORE HEAT-RELATED DEATHS AT WORKSITES

SHELTER-IN-PLACE ORDERS COULD LEAD TO MORE HEAT-RELATED DEATHS AT WORKSITES

2020 is projected to be one of the hottest years on record,

which might be OK if you have air conditioning and work indoors.

But it could be hazardous if you work in the heat & have been sheltering-in-place. We tell you why.

At Kenzen, we believe that the hottest year on record combined with the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to even more heat-related deaths at worksites if employers don’t take the proper precautions.

Employers should not only be screening their workers for COVID-19 related symptoms, but be monitoring them for signs & symptoms of heat injuries & illnesses while at work. Why, you might ask?

7 Day Forecast in the 90s

With shelter-in-place orders across much of the globe, many people who work manual labor jobs are forced to stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19.

This means that many workers are likely spending most of their days in air-conditioned homes instead of working outside (as normal). This is problematic because research shows that those accustomed to air-conditioned homes are less tolerant of the heat.

Most heat-related deaths occur in the first few days of working on a job site in the heat. And one of the best ways to mitigate heat-related injuries & illnesses is to acclimatize to the heat. Many workers naturally acclimatize to the heat during the early summer (e.g. May & June) when temperatures start to increase, however, with shelter-in-place orders around the globe, this acclimatization period could be erased.

Instead, workers that have been sheltering-in-place during the early summer will likely be asked to go back to work in mid-July or August, in the dead-heat of the summer when they haven’t had a chance to acclimatize. On top of that, they will be asked to make up for “lost time” on the worksite. This means that not only will workers be asked to work harder when returning to the site, but they likely won’t be given the necessary time (~2 weeks) to acclimatize to the heat.

This is a recipe for disaster, that will likely lead to an increase in the number of heat-related deaths, injuries, and illnesses.

Oil field

SO WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT YOUR WORKERS?

  • Gradually ramp up their workloads each day & the amount of PPE that they’re wearing

  • Provide cooling stations & plenty of breaks in the first few days

  • Monitor your workers for signs & symptoms of heat-related injuries & illnesses during their first week back on the job site. The use of physiological monitoring of each individual can help to know when workers are getting too hot & need to take a break.

Let Kenzen help you in these crazy times. With our individualized physiological monitoring device, we make it so that you have one less thing to worry about and you can just focus on the task at hand.

Most importantly, we at Kenzen hope that you all stay safe, stay healthy, and stay cool.

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References:

  • Williams, Augusta A., et al. “Building Vulnerability in a Changing Climate: Indoor Temperature Exposures and Health Outcomes in Older Adults Living in Public Housing during an Extreme Heat Event in Cambridge, MA.” International journal of environmental research and public health 16.13 (2019): 2373.

  • Bain, Anthony R., and Ollie Jay. “Does summer in a humid continental climate elicit an acclimatization of human thermoregulatory responses?.” European journal of applied physiology 111.6 (2011): 1197-1205.

  • https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/27/meteorologists-say-2020-on-course-to-be-hottest-year-since-records-began