waiting for workers to succumb to the heat, manufacturers
should be proactive – not reactive – in their efforts to keep
their employees safe.
According to Marcus Shuter, the Vortec Product
Manager at ITW Air Management, there are a few things
that manufacturers can do. “The big ones that we know
of are cooling breaks. It’s always a good idea to have
employees work for short amounts of time and then do
breaks,” says Shuter. “Also, make sure that there are plen-
ty of liquids available. Whether it be Gatorade or water,
There are also specific products that manufacturers can
use to help them fight off the overwhelming heat of sum-
mer. For example, the Vortec personal air conditioner “is
a compressed air driven system where a compressed air
hose attaches to the vest with a Vortec tube attached. Then
as the air comes in it is cooled down,” explains Shuter.
“So if you are pumping 70 degree compressed air into it,
you are going to get about 10 to 20 degree air coming out
of it into the vest where it circulates around the wearer’s
body to ensure that the torso of the worker remains cool.
So basically they are getting a cooling break while they
are working. We created it to improve productivity and to
help ensure employee safety.” The bonus of this particular
product is that it can be adjusted for all extreme tempera-
tures, so it is not only useful in the extreme heat of sum-
mer but also during the winter.
Other products that can help manufacturers eliminate
safety risks relating to heat stress include cooling hats,
headbands, sweatbands, cooling vests, heat stress monitors and hydration packs. Cooling hats, sweatbands and
cooling headwear are designed to regulate the evaporation of moisture in order to prolong the cooling effects
of water, as well as help contain and remove sweat from
user’s body — crucial when fighting heat rashes.
Cooling vests are another common product that manufacturers can implement to fight off the negative effects
of heat. For example, SEQUEL has developed a thermal
cooling vest that sustains workers normal core body temperature, so they are able to work uninhibited by the heat.
Not all cooling vests are the same, however. For example,
Techniche has produced a cooling vest that works due to
cooling ice pack inserts placed inside the vest. Though the
approach is different, both companies explain the importance of their product in maintaining worker safety, avoiding heat related fatigue and all around comfort.
Heat stress monitors come in all shapes and sizes,
however, they are all designed for the same purpose — to
gauge a person’s or area’s heat stress index. They typically use sensors to produce timely readings of the temperature which are then cross referenced with WBGT index
values — which is a chart of the appropriate heat levels
an individual can be exposed to before experiencing heat
stress. From there, they will then make the user aware
when levels are becoming too high.
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Finally, keeping workers hydrated seems self-explanatory, but nevertheless is crucial to dealing with extreme work environments. This
can be done with regular water breaks, water stations and even hydration packs. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
(NIOSH) recommends that workers drink at least one cup of water
every 15 to 20 minutes, even when they do not feel thirsty. Sports beverages are also acceptable, however, water is the most important tool
to fight the heat.
As the thermometers rise and the sun starts to shine, it is crucial
to be aware of these heat-related concerns and ready with preplanned safety procedures. “It’s important to be proactive, so you
see a lot of manufacturing companies doing more pre-planning to
make sure they are ready to go for the summer months and have
the proper safety procedures in place ahead of time so they don’t
have to react to it or deal with OSHA fines and can make sure
everyone is taken care of,” explains Shuter. Enjoy the summer, but
always remember to be safe.