7 July Safety Topics Your Employees Should Hear (Download)
It’s the hottest month in the US, so there’s no doubt that there will be plenty of heat-related toolbox talks in July! It’s also more important than ever for your colleagues to get up-to-date with the best practices in heat safety, including signs and symptoms of heat-related illness, appropriate PPE, and additional fire hazards.
Remember that you can also mix and match your safety topics. For example, because workers’ memorial day is in April, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look at the most frequent causes of workplace injuries, near misses, and fatalities regularly.
July safety topics
Summer heat safety
Our first safety topic for July is heat safety. With warmer conditions when working inside and outdoors, it’s crucial to make sure everyone is protected. You should also ensure that everyone is up-to-date with the signs and symptoms of common heat-related illnesses and that they can identify these in themselves as well as in their colleagues.
Heat rash is an uncomfortable rash that can be caused by blocked sweat glands, which then causes inflammation.
Red and bumpy skin
Prickly or itchy-feeling skin.
Note: it may be harder to recognize on darker skin tones.
Heat cramps are involuntary muscle spasms. These can occur during heavy lifting and working in hot environments.
Tightening in the calves, arms, abdominal muscles, or back.
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke
Heat exhaustion or heatstroke can be caused when your body is overheating. Often, this is caused by prolonged exposure to the sun or working in hot temperatures. Unfortunately, it’s a very common reason for workers to visit emergency rooms.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention), over 2,000 US workers suffer from job-related eye injuries every day. So, eye and face protection is a necessity at all times. It’s important to think about eye injuries as well as eye disease, both of which can happen in the workplace.
To prevent this, make sure your team is up-to-date with their personal protective eyewear requirements. This includes:
July 28 is World Hepatitis Day, so it is a good time to work this topic into your safety talks. While around 862,000 people in the US are expected to be living with long-term hepatitis B, a lot of people are symptomless or don’t even know they are infected.
Hepatitis B can be spread through blood, semen, or other bodily fluids from an infected person. Many people don’t experience symptoms but Hepatitis B affects the liver — a critical organ. However, there is a vaccine to prevent infection.
Those who should receive the vaccine include:
Individuals who are more at risk due to sexual exposure
Anyone who uses drugs or shares needles
Those who are in contact with blood or other bodily fluids
Those with hepatitis C
Anyone with chronic liver disease
Those infected with HIV.
However, even if none of these risk factors apply to you or your colleagues, hepatitis B can be easily passed at work through sharing drinks or even broken skin. So, make sure everyone understands how it is spread and maintains appropriate hygiene.
As the temperatures hit their peak in North America and we work outside more, insect safety is a topic that is often forgotten. However, besides the annoyance of insect bites, it’s also important to think about any diseases that can be transmitted by these little creatures. One bite from an infected mosquito could cause a range of viruses, including Zika, Dengue Fever, and the West Nile virus.
Workers can protect themselves by:
Using clothing that covers hands, arms, legs, and other exposed areas
Checking sources of standing water (and getting rid of them) as mosquitos can lay eggs here
Using insect repellant
Covering the back of the neck with a longer hat
Washing any skin that has insect repellant on it when going back indoors.
The National Safety Council (NSC) has put together a guide around mosquitoes in particular, as they are so prevalent in July, August, and September. You can download it below.
July 11 – July 17 this month is Operation Safety Week from The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). This year’s focus is on speeding.
Another reason to hold this safety talk with your team is the overwhelming frequency of vehicle-related incidents. OSHA reports that every 12 seconds, someone dies in a car crash in the US. And in 2018, the CDC said that 1,276 US workers driving or riding a vehicle on a public road died in a work-related crash.
Besides reinforcing the importance of general workplace vehicle safety, it’s also worth referring to OSHA’s guidelines on speeding. Even though the agency doesn’t have specific limits, it suggests reviewing consensus standards such as ASME B56.1-2000 Safety Standard For Low Lift and High Lift Trucks to calculate sensible speeds. However, they do note that other factors should be considered, too, such as:
Due to the heat in July, many workers may find themselves fatigued, exhausted, or struggling to concentrate. However, we shouldn’t forget the evergreen topics that are essential in warm and hot months. Fall protection is one of them.
To prevent you and your colleagues from getting heat exhaustion, be sure to:
Take regularly scheduled breaks when working outside
Acclimatize to working in the heat
Drink plenty of fluids (cool fluids if possible)
Work in the shade where possible
Wear appropriate clothes that allow airflow
Wear a hat to shield your face from the sun, unless a helmet is the appropriate PPE on site.
What are the types of eye injury?
Of the 2,000 daily US worker eye injuries, there are three main types of eye injury:
Striking or scraping: Small particles or objects striking or scraping the eye.
Penetration: Larger objects such as staples, nails, or smaller pieces of wood penetrating the eyeball.
Chemical and thermal burns: Chemicals or cleaning products can damage eyes and the surrounding tissue. This also applies to thermal burns obtained by welders.
What are the signs and symptoms of Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver. The signs of Hepatitis B include:
Fatigue and tiredness
A loss of appetite
Nausea and/or vomiting
Dark urine and a change in bowel movement color
Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
In July, heat-related topics take priority to ensure that everyone is as safe as possible. Remember, heat topics aren’t just meant for those working outside. Indoor workers such as those in kitchens, bakeries, laundries, etc. need to be protected from high temperatures, too, due to the heat-generating machinery they work with.
Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for next month’s article: August safety topics.