After Hottest Month Recorded on Earth, QBE North America Urges Business Owners to Consider Worker Safety
NEW YORK, NY, August 28, 2023 — As the summer of 2023 brought record-breaking heat waves, insurance leader QBE North America is urging employers to prioritize worker safety and providing tips for helping their employees work safely in the heat for the remainder of the summer.
According to the National Weather Service, this year (2023) breaks the record for the most Excessive Heat Warnings (EHW) at 12 as of August 2, and July was recorded as the hottest month on earth, breaking multiple global records, according to NASA and Copernicus Climate Change scientists.
“When summer temperatures increase, so do employee health and safety concerns, and hot weather may stick around longer than we’ve previously seen, past what we’ve considered traditional summer months,” said Ryan Vande Kamp, Lead Loss Control Consultant at QBE North America. “Outdoor work certainly comes with inherent weather-related risks, but employees who work indoors in facilities without air conditioning are susceptible to danger from the heat. It’s critical that business owners understand this and stay vigilant during the final weeks of summer, as doing so may help prevent heat strain, heat stress and other health problems.”
Even workers who are not regularly subject to direct sunlight can suffer heat strain due to their metabolic heat load, which is magnified when air temperatures are high. Without air movement, it is more difficult to cool off. Even with proper cooling systems, dehydration and heat cramps are possible if employees are not given adequate fluid replenishment and rest breaks.
QBE North America suggests the following tips to help employers keep workers safe throughout the remainder of the season:
- Create a clear and easily accessible set of procedures outlining how employees can seek immediate medical assistance if needed. Regularly update and communicate these protocols to all staff.
- Know the signs of heat-related illnesses and how to respond. Ensure personnel receive up to-date training on first aid and how to properly respond to heat-related emergencies.
- Monitor the heat index each day and plan accordingly. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends utilizing the heat index as a screening tool. The heat index uses actual air temperature and relative humidity to measure how hot it feels. Environmental monitoring via phone weather applications also gives temperature, humidity, wind speed, sun and cloud information and barometric pressure data as well.
- Make sure your facility is properly ventilated. It may be difficult to ventilate the whole space in a large facility, but using portable fans, ceiling fans and exhaust fans will help create airflow. Dehumidifiers can also help to keep conditions cool.
- Insulate hot pipes. Heat can radiate off pipes indoors so insulating them will help cool the environment.
- Make sure equipment is working properly and not overheating.
- Encourage rest breaks. It may seem like less work will get done, but if exhaustion or other heat problems set in, no work will get done.
- Ask how workers are feeling. Sometimes employees may feel uncomfortable approaching managers with issues, or sharing they have a health condition that could be exacerbated by heat. Consider issuing wearable devices to monitor stress, exhaustion, humidity and temperature.
- Establish an acclimatization schedule for both new and long-term employees, including adjustments for the hottest part of the day and re-acclimatization after vacations and leaves of absence. Follow recommendations by NIOSH.
- Since heat can increase the chances of dehydration, offer hydration stations/water coolers, and make sure your staff knows where they are.
- Ensure proper clothing is worn, including loose-fitting, light-colored clothing in natural fibers, as well as a cap or hat to protect the face from the sun.
- Provide additional workers for tasks known to require greater physical exertion and greater metabolic rate.
- Encourage employees to choose their worktime meals wisely. Eating a high-calorie meal can affect the body negatively when working in extreme heat.
- Remember normal safety routines. Don’t let the extra precautions for heat distract from the regular safety practices that keep workers healthy and safe every day.
Heat safety in the workplace should never be taken lightly. Employers should look closely at the plans they have in place to help ensure their workers are safe and can perform their jobs effectively during the remaining weeks of summer heat.
For additional information about worker safety during the summer months, visit QBE North America’s Tools and Resources page.
QBE North America’s Risk Solutions team are experts in identifying risks, delivering loss prevention recommendations and providing innovative loss protection tools and services. Their focused commitment to service and technical acumen helps customers identify, evaluate and reduce their potential for losses and business risk. By getting to know their customers, their business operations, priorities and concerns, they can help deliver the best possible outcomes. To consult with Risk Solutions or for any questions, QBE customers may call (888) 560-2635 or email RSC@us.qbe.com.
QBE North America is a global insurance leader helping customers solve unique risks, so they can stay focused on their future. Part of QBE Insurance Group Limited, QBE North America reported Gross Written Premiums in the first half of 2023 of $5 billion. QBE Insurance Group’s results can be found at qbe.com. Headquartered in Sydney, Australia, QBE operates out of 27 countries around the globe, with a presence in every key insurance market. The North America division, headquartered in New York, conducts business primarily through its insurance company subsidiaries. The actual terms and conditions of any insurance coverage are subject to the language of the policies as issued. QBE insurance companies are rated “A” (Excellent) by A.M. Best and “A+” by Standard & Poor’s. Additional information can be found at qbe.com/us or follow QBE North America on LinkedIn and Facebook.
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