Summer Safety Checklist

May 27, 2024 | Reskill Your Workforce | 6 min read

Summer is almost here! That means longer days, warmer weather, and of course plenty of ice cream. But, it’s also important to remember that with the onset of summer comes a multitude of different safety dangers that can put you and your employees at risk.

Record-breaking temperatures across the nation have increased the risks people face while working, especially in the summer months. Every year, dozens of workers die and thousands more suffer illnesses related to hazardous heat exposure. That’s why implementing safe and effective summer safety guidelines and training programs are crucial. Without them, you could be risking people’s lives. 

Top Summer Accidents

Summertime is one of the most potentially dangerous vacation periods of the year. One of the best ways to prevent injuries and even fatalities during this time is to be aware of potential dangers that employees may face during the summer months and to help them understand how to mitigate risk.

By familiarizing yourself with common summer safety hazards, and implementing proper training for your organization, you can help mitigate your team’s risk in  June, July, and August.

Here are the most common summer accidents:

  • Motor Vehicle Crashes
  • Bicycle Accidents
  • Pedestrian Accidents
  • Motorcycle Crashes
  • Swimming Accidents

While these types of accidents are more likely to occur outside of work, your organization can still play a part in helping employees to both assess and avoid risk in their personal time.

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Reducing the Risk of Heat Stress

While many summer accidents can occur outside of work, there are also many dangers associated with working during the summer months that employers and their employees need to be aware of.  

While full of fun, summer is also the season of heat-related illnesses. When hard work is paired with hot temperatures, serious illness and even fatalities can happen . 

In a recent push for summer safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health unanimously recommended that OSHA move forward expeditiously on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to implement a heat standard for indoor and outdoor settings. This new regulation will hopefully keep workers safe from the dangers of heat stress and hold employers responsible when they fail to put proper safety measures in place. 

Summer Safety Checklist

Here are some of the top tips for ensuring that your employees are protected this summer:

1. Risk Assessments

Planning ahead is an important first step to mitigating heat-related injuries and illnesses. Start by conducting a hazard analysis of all the job duties or positions that could involve exposure to extreme heat, including an analysis of outdoor and indoor workspaces. Help identify hazards and problems, decide who is at risk, and evaluate whether more precautions need to be taken. The main factors to look at during summer risk assessments are:

  • Work rate 
  • Working climate 
  • Worker’s clothing and protective equipment
  • Worker’s age, build, and medical factors 
2. Education and Training

When it comes to the workplace, employers have a responsibility to educate their employees. According to OSHA, nearly 75% of all heat-illness fatalities happen during the first week of employment. Employees must be aware of the risks and how to respond during heat-related emergencies which is why proper training — starting on the first day of work — is crucial. Managers must know how to take the lead when it comes to spotting potential problems and ensuring compliance. 

Comprehensive training should include heat-related illnesses, symptoms, and prevention strategies. Along with a complete catalog on safety and compliance training, Skillsoft has a dedicated collection of summer and heat safety content. A few additional relevant topics include:

3. Control Air Temperature

Dangers associated with heat don’t only happen outside. In an indoor work environment, being able to control air temperature is vital. Factors and measures employers should consider are:

  • Humidity
  • Air conditioning
  • Use of fans
  • Effectiveness of opening/closing windows
4. Hydration

Employees should be encouraged to stay hydrated to avoid overheating and heat stress. Throughout the workday, employers should provide unlimited, easy access to cool water supplies in the workplace and encourage employees to drink regularly.

OSHA has indicated that employees should drink 4 to 6 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes, but no more than 1 quart per hour and 12 quarts over a 24-hour period.

5. Appropriate Clothing

Clothing can be an issue for both indoor and outdoor workers. For indoor workers, keeping cool and comfortable should be the main consideration, whereas for outdoor workers, employers need to look at how to protect them from the sun by providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and advising them to keep comfortably covered up.

6. Implement a Work/Rest Regimen

Require workers to take breaks to cool down and hydrate throughout the day. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), there are a variety of factors contributing to recommended adjustments to rest breaks, including:

  • Increases in temperature, humidity, and sunshine
  • Lack of air movement
  • Protective clothing or equipment getting worn out
  • Heavier work

Scheduling work during the cooler periods of the day, such as during the early morning or in the evening, can also help keep workers safe from the hottest temperatures and protect them from too much time in the sun. 

7. Acclimatization

Acclimatization is the result of beneficial adaptations that occur after gradual increased exposure to a hot environment. Workers new to the heat can be the most vulnerable, so employers should ensure that all employees are acclimatized before they begin working in a hot environment. Start by gradually increasing workloads and allowing more frequent breaks. Make sure to closely supervise new employees until they are fully acclimatized.

9. Provide shade

For outdoor workers, provide access to covered areas and encourage them to take their breaks in the shade rather than staying out in the sun. Ensure that employees are able to rest comfortably, drink water in the shade, and consider providing sun protection, like hats or sunglasses, for employees who are out in the sun.

10. Prepare for the worst-case scenario

Even if you take every measure to protect against heat-related safety issues, accidents can still occur. That’s why it’s important to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. In case of an emergency, make sure to provide prompt medical attention for symptomatic employees, and have an action plan in place so everyone is aware of the role they must play in urgent situations.

The Benefits of Summer Safety Training

With the summer quickly approaching, there is clearly a lot to consider when it comes to how to protect your workers during the warmer months. The steps highlighted above can result in significant benefits to your business, including reduced risk to employees, which in turn means:

  • Higher productivity
  • Fewer absences
  • Comfortable, happy employees

This summer, as you make sure you’re staying cool and safe by following appropriate regulations for the summer months, the top three words to remember are: Water, Rest, and Shade

As temperatures rise, you can have a positive impact on your workers by taking action now. Skillsoft provides award-winning compliance training to help raise awareness of these risks and provide clear guidance on preventing them.