Every HR manager is reading summer safety tips this time of the year to help employees avoid needless injuries and illnesses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, which is published every 10 years, indicated that for 2003–2010, there were 1.1 million injuries reported, and that injury statistics rise during the summer months. Therefore, it’s the responsibilty of all organizations to develop education around preventing summer hazards to reduce costly workers’ compensation claims.
Summer Safety Tips
The summer months can signal a time when employees are more active outside, due to participation in sports, yard work and travel. At work, employees can become overheated, dehydrated, sunburned and overwhelmed by extra tasks that the busy summer brings. Managers can help employees by posting summer safety advice around the workplace. Monthly staff training sessions can be centered on staying safe and wearing protective clothing during the summer. The Centers for Disease Control and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provide a special guide each summer to help employers crack down on summer and heat-related injuries and illnesses.
Creating a Wellness Campaign
It’s critical for employers to communicate summer safety tips to employees, before the season starts every year. An active marketing campaign that creates awareness of seasonal conditions along with tips for staying safe and cool are vital to employee well-being.
A comprehensive summer safety educational program can include various examples of the kinds of hazards employees may encounter and how to prevent injury and illness. Some basic examples can include:
- The need to drink enough water to avoid dehydration and the availability of water coolers around the office
- Wearing of protective clothing, proper footwear, safety gear and sunscreen to protect the physical body
- Scheduling regular physicals and visiting a medical office to report any problems
- Obtaining the necessary vaccinations before traveling to other countries
- Strategies to retain good cardio health and strength to avoid sports injuries
- Avoiding the overuse of alcohol and watching out for food-borne illnesses
As part of this wellness campaign, a wallet-sized checklist can be handed out to employees to help them become more aware of summer safety tips. Managers can also refer employees to posters placed strategically around the workplace. A summer safety officer can be assigned to observe employees during the workday and provide cool-down periods and beverages to employees when needed.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requires all employers to ensure safe working conditions for all employees. Above-average temperatures, direct sunlight and over-exertion can lead to heat exhaustion and even heat strokes. Managers need to be aware of the symptoms of these conditions, which can include an abnormally high body temperature, confusion, irrational behavior and loss of consciousness. Safety measures to reduce the hours of heavy physical labor during the hottest part of the day, frequent break periods and access to shade and cool water need to be in place in the summer.
Education combined with preventative measures can help to make the summer safer for millions of workers. By using the above tips, any employer can help to cut down on the hazards of summer and make the workplace a pleasant and more productive environment.