PREPARE FOR THE HEAT: Preventing workplace illnesses and injuries can lower premiums

Alabama summers are hot. Temperatures throughout the state tend to stay in the 90s during July and August, but the mercury can rise into the 100s.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, this summer will be hotter and rainier than normal, with the hottest periods in early and mid-July and mid-August.

When considering training to avoid workplace accidents and illnesses, don’t overlook the heat as a potential factor in accidents. Employees don’t even have to be engaged in outside work to overheat easily.

Because heat affects the body’s cooling system and reduces blood flow to the brain, muscles and other organs, employees can experience a decrease in strength and an increase in fatigue. Fatigue can result in inattentiveness to job hazards and slow responses in emergencies.

Heat can also reduce the ability to understand instructions or retain information. Even a short-term reduction in mental sharpness could result in an accident.

Plus, heat makes people uncomfortable and irritable. Frustrated workers cut corners and ignore safety procedures.

The heat can cause heat rash, fainting, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and even heatstroke, which can be deadly.

An employer who invests in eliminating or reducing injuries can lower their workers’ compensation insurance costs.

Employers can take steps to avoid these heat-related illnesses:

  • Schedule heavy work for a cooler time of year or in the evening and early morning.
  • Allow more frequent breaks or longer rest periods.
  • Allow time for workers to become conditioned to heat.

Insisting employees take precautions to reduce the risk of accidents and illnesses due to heat, can also avoid heat-related claims. Here are some steps employees can take to decrease the risk:

  • Drink water steadily on hot days.
  • Drink at least 16 ounces before physical exertion and 5 to 7 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes while physically active. Even if just sitting, drink plenty of water.
  • Wear light, loose clothing and wear a hat to protect your head from the sun.
  • Work at a steady pace and try not to overexert.
  • Take regular breaks in a cool place.

Workplace injuries can cost an employer considerable time in lost productivity and insurance premiums. An employer who invests in eliminating or reducing injuries can significantly lower their workers’ compensation insurance costs over the course of a few years.

Injuries are going to happen, the key is preventing the injuries you can reasonably prevent, and making sure there are open lines of communication once an injury does take place,” said ARC Fund Manager Mark Young.

Managers and store owners should communicate any injuries, including those related to the heat, to their comp provider as soon as possible.

When you call or go online to make a claim, be prepared to provide your business’ dba and corporate name, your ARC member number, a summary of the accident and injury as well as the injured employee’s name and contact information.

>> For more information, access Alabama Retail Comp’s safety training library.

>> To report an injury, go to How to Report a Claim on our website.