For most parts of the country, this is a question you’ve probably gotten a lot lately, and it gets more irritating every time:

“Boy, sure is hot out today, huh?”

 

Despite their well-intentioned efforts at small talk, they do have a point. Most parts of the U.S. (and many areas abroad, certainly) are experiencing record heat right now, and it’s bound to continue through much of the summer.

Among all the other health risks this can pose, workers that specialize in strenuous activity or manual labor are at much greater risk for heat-related injuries or illness if proper care isn’t taken.

Several federal regulations are in place to guide warehouses and factories towards safer practices during the warmer months, but if you need a pointer in the right direction, we’ve got a few tips and ideas to prevent heat exhaustion in your staff:

 

Recognize the signs of heat illness

Even if your warehouse is already well-ventilated and air conditioned, heat illness can strike many workers if they exert themselves too far. Keep an eye out for the following symptoms in your fellow workers and be prepared to help them if needed:

  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Profuse sweating
  • Dry skin
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Intense thirst

The list goes on, but these are some of the most obvious and easy-to-spot symptoms, and knowing how to treat them can be the difference between life or death in many cases.

 

Provide equipment to reduce physical exertion

Some actions in the warehouse will always require a human touch from beginning to end, but there’s steps along the way you can take to make it easier on your workers. Bringing in equipment to help lighten the load like forklifts, gravity flow conveyors, and the like to help product move more quickly through the warehouse and cut down on the amount of physical exertion done by your workers, helping to prevent heat-related illness and injury.

 

Allow better air flow

Not only can an overworked air conditioner lead to increased utility bills and damaged equipment, it can also prevent cold air from getting to your staff and posing a health risk. Maintain your ventilation systems to make sure they’re outputting as much air as is needed, and whenever possible install more open shelving such as wire shelving and pallet racks when needed near vents to help the air flow more freely.

 

Remove or enclose all sources of heat

Of course, the best air conditioning in the world is only going to do so much if the warehouse itself is running a lot of heat-generating equipment. Depending on the layout of your warehouse, this equipment should be kept near vents or windows to help remove the heat from the warehouse itself, and if possible these machines should be segregated behind security partitions to keep them removed from the colder shop floor.

 

Keep an eye on the temperature

Finally, sometimes the simplest advice is the best: keep an eye on the temperature. Experts suggest not letting the temperature in any warehouse, distribution center, or factory reach over 77° Fahrenheit without risking decreased mental awareness, increased fatigue, and other physical risks. If the warehouse gets too hot, you may need to shut down operations for the day.

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