LIMA — With heat levels soaring into the 90s and 100s in the Midwest, companies are taking extra measures to ensure employee safety in terms of heat-related illnesses.
Lack of heat prevention and acclimatization is the most common cause of heat-related illnesses and deaths, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Local companies are combating the heat through a preventative and responsive approach.
Procter & Gamble works on building a culture around employee safety as the heat sweeps across the area by training employees about general heat safety that transcends the workplace as well as providing water and plenty of breaks.
“We like to come at it preventatively by conditioning workers and supplying heat safety information,” said Mark Renner, education in training and operational excellence manager at Procter & Gamble. “But we also come at it responsively by having am EMT on site.”
Other local companies, such as Husky Lima Energy, where workers work primarily outside, take similar precautions when it comes to the heat.
Heat safety information and what symptoms to watch for in regards to heat illnesses are provided to the workers, alongside increased number of water breaks, said Kim Guttormson, media relations coordinator at Husky Lima Energy.
Even though employees who work outdoors are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses, companies still protect workers from the heat in indoor climates.
While employees at Rudolph Foods work indoors, Michelle Gardner, director of human resources and safety at Rudolph Foods, says heat safety training is provided for workers as well as there being a first response team on site. Maintaining the trend of frequent breaks and hydration, Gardner noted companies are working towards safer environments.
“We are seeing a trend towards climate controlled work environments,” Gardner said. “This is a great goal for companies to work towards in the future.”
Companies are also finding innovative ways to keep workers cool in the heat.
Procter & Gamble, Rudolph Foods, Husky Lima Energy and Ashland are all companies that provide workers with electrolyte-laden drinks and ice pops.
The electrolyte laden drinks and ice pops help alongside water “with the consumption and replacement of body fluids,” said Charley Gasperetti, human resources manager at Ashland.
Pre-planning for any outdoor work to avoid midday hours, using quick-wicking fabricates and using a buddy system to ensure hydration are also innovative ways to combat the heat.
While companies are taking precautions for their workers, physicians warn that heat-related illnesses can affect anyone.
“One of the most important things is that people recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses,” said Dr. Susan Kaufman, the primary care medical director for Lima Memorial Professional Corporation. “It can really affect anyone.”
Symptoms for heat exhaustion include confusion or irritation, clammy skin, headaches/nausea or muscle cramps and weakness Kaufman said.
Residents, especially the elderly and the very young, are reminded to stay safe from the heat. By increasing water intake and limiting outdoor activities, residents can avoid risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
Lillian van Wyngaarden is a freelance reporter for The Lima News. Reach the newspaper at [email protected] or on Twitter @limanews.