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Heat Illness: Preparing-for-Prevention Tips for Painters: Part II

As painters and decorators, we are our own best advocates in preventing heat illness on the job. We must play an active role in the protection of our own health. We cannot leave the responsibility to our employers.

 

In fact, both OSHA and EPA limit the employer’s level of responsibility. Employers tend to make these work-related choices, and provide preventive measures at their discretion.

 

Now – the cooler months – is the time to come up with a plan to prevent and treat on-the-job heat illness symptoms.

 

Now is the time to determine how we will handle our workload during the sustaining hot and humid months/season. Especially in climates like Florida has from May through October.

 

NOW is the time to get the facts out about heat illness.

 

  1. Talk about it: types, symptoms, risks and warning signs, safety issues.
  2. Publicize it.
  3. Orient everyone on the team and staff about what to look for.
  4. Train team members and staff what to do, when, and how.
  5. Commit to on-going heat illness awareness and advocacy at the workplace.

 

Heat Illness Prevention Tips for Painters

 
1. Know your body.

A. What is your tolerance level to heat, humidity, and sun exposure (direct/indirect)?

B. What is your exertion limits within that tolerance level?

2. Know your work environment.

A. What is the highest temperatures in which you must work during the hottest, most humid season? How many hours a day? How many days a week?

B. What is the actual temperature felt by your body – with the heat index added?

C. What us the longest period of time during a work day, that you must work continuously in that actual temperature?

D. How many days during a week must you work continuously in those actual conditions?

E. What is the level of clean-air and ventilation within your work area(s) on a continual basis?

3. Know your job’s physical demands.

A. How many hours in a day must you work in hot, humid conditions? Number of days a week?

B. At how fast of a pace must you do your work? Very slow? Slow? Moderate? Fast? Very fast?

C. For how long a period must you keep up that pace? _____ minutes. _____ hours?

D. How many breaks do you get, ordinarily, each of these days?

1) At what times during the work day are the breaks scheduled?

2) How many additional breaks are you allowed during work days in hot, humid conditions?

3) How often can you take a break when heat and humidity conditions meet or exceed your tolerance level. (See 1 and 2 above.)

4. Know your physical limits in meeting the physical demands.

A. How many pounds can you lift, carry or move, ordinarily and at once?

1) Under hot, humid conditions, what is the maximum number of pounds? Without symptoms.

2) With B, do you need to use a cart or other conveyance piece of equipment?

B. How long can you climb and stand on a ladder?

1) Under hot, humid conditions, what is the maximum length of time? Without any symptoms

C. How long and often can you bend, stoop or crouch within one hour?

1) Under hot, humid conditions, what is the longest that you can do these? Without symptoms.

D. How long can you stand and how far can you walk without resting? Holding/carrying anything that weighs your maximum poundage? (See 4-A above.)

1) Under hot, humid conditions, what is the longest period and furthest distance that you can do these? Without any symptoms.

5. Know what your first heat illness symptoms may be.

A. What have been your first heat illness symptoms in the past?

B. What, if any, medical conditions that you have could cause or trigger heat illness symptoms?

C. What, if any, medications that you take could cause or trigger heat illness symptoms? Include over-the-counter products – eg. antihistamines, aspirins, nasal sprays.

 

Do you have a low tolerance level to any heat-humidity-ventilation environmental conditions?

  1. Avoid them. Work in cooler, shaded areas when above conditions do exist in other areas.
  2. Do not allow yourself to be placed in any situation that might cause, trigger and/or exacerbate your heat illness susceptibility.

 

SPECIAL LIFE-SAVING HEAT ILLNESS PREVENTION TIPS

 

  1. Schedule exterior painting during the coolest times of your work day. Examples: A. Dawn-to-10 AM. B. 5 PM-to-dusk or dark, or later.
  2. Plan to work on surfaces/areas opposite full-sun exposure. Examples: A. West and north sides of buildings when sun is over east and south sides.
  3. East and south sides of buildings when sun is on west and north sides.
  4. Plan to work in hot, humid areas when an emergency comes up. NOTE: Ordinarily, there are times when exterior painting must be done immediately.
  5. Wear short, white painter’s pants when you must work in outdoor temperatures 90 plus degrees. Regardless of the time period involved. NOTE: Get approval before the hot season arrives to adjust clothing to fit extreme heat/humidity conditions.
  6. Wear a cap or hat with a bill, when working and/or walking in the sun. TIP: Wider is wiser.
  7. Keep a drinking water supply with you at all times.
  8. Carry packs of small snacks in your pocket. Examples: Walnuts/almonds, Peanut M&Ms, raisins, trail mix, granola bars, energy bars.
  9. Carry frozen ice pack in small cooler on your golfcart or pushcart. While you’re at it, stick in a couple small cans of healthy juice. Examples: V-8, orange, apple. TIP: Pack a banana, too. High in potassium. Essential for sodium/hydration leveling.

 

BOTTOM LINE: The painter on duty must get his/her work done. One way or another. So watch out for yourself when the heat and humidity start to climb. And, set the standard for others to do the same.

 

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Learn and Live “Heat Illness” Free. Go to: www.osha.gov/heatillness.

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Copyright 2015, 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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