Why you should start thinking about the heat now

2024 forecasted to be even hotter than 2023, bringing heat-related safety challenges

Why you should start thinking about the heat now

As winter settles in and temperatures drop, it might seem counterintuitive to talk about heat-related safety concerns. However, forward-thinking health and safety professionals are already turning their attention to this critical issue, because 2024 is forecasted to be even hotter than 2023.

"I think one is the practical implication that if it's going to be hotter, then there’s the potential to have more workers impacted by heat stress or illness,” says Clare Epstein, general manager of commercial at Vector Solutions, an e-learning training provider specializing in workplace safety.

She says health and safety leaders “should be taking preventative measures to deal with that."

Epstein also points to regulatory changes on the horizon, with organizations like OSHA and various states considering new rules to address heat stress. On this side of the border, we have also seen provinces take action to address workplace safety heat concerns.

"So I think there's two pieces, those employers need to keep in mind, the practical, like, how do I keep my workforce safe? And the second is, how do I make sure I understand what's coming from the regulatory side?"

Training and preventative measures

To stay ahead of these challenges, Epstein advises employers to educate their workforce about heat stress and its symptoms. "Training is really important. When I've looked at some of the meetings and regulations about this, I think almost everyone is on board, that you need to train your employees to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stress."

Moreover, Epstein stresses the importance of preventative measures such as providing shade, hydration, and acclimatization for workers who are not accustomed to working in the heat. "Those are some of the most common things we're seeing out there."

Epstein acknowledges that different employers face varying degrees of exposure to heat-related risks. Whether it's outdoor workers facing prolonged exposure or firefighters battling both heat and flames, tailored training and solutions are necessary.

Thinking ahead

Epstein suggests acting now rather than waiting until the heat hits. Corrective actions and preventative measures take time to implement, and being prepared well in advance can make all the difference. "The more prepared you are, the more likely you're going to be for success."

While the winter chill may make it tempting to put heat-related safety concerns on the back burner, Epstein's insights remind us that preparing for the heat is a year-round necessity.

Employers who take proactive steps to train their workforce and implement preventative measures will be better equipped to protect their employees when the mercury starts to rise. As we look ahead to 2024 and the potential for even hotter days, it's clear that now is the time for health and safety professionals to act.