The temperatures in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the summer are hot. Sizzling. Oppressive.
The average high temperature in June is 87.5 degrees and rises to 93.1 in July and August. By September, the average falls to a cool, by comparison, 83.9 degrees.
For some workers on the job, the heat can have adverse physical effects.
It's important, then, for employers to develop a plan to keep their employees safe in extreme heat, whether they work inside or outside. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attributes more than 1,300 deaths in the country each year to extreme heat.
Here are some things companies can do to help their employees through the upcoming hot months.
1. Tailor the environment for employees' comfort. If employees work indoors, make sure the air conditioning is in working order and have it repaired promptly if it isn't. Workers outdoors need access to shady areas where they can cool down. Portable fans or an air-conditioned break area are good places to start.
2. Provide hydration stations. Water bottles or water coolers that are kept cold are essential, and workers should be encouraged to drink one cup every 15 minutes or one liter per hour.
3. Offer regular breaks.
4. Alter work hours. Change the schedule so that employees do more physically demanding work in the morning before the heat sets in during the mid to late hours of the day. The less demanding work can be done then.
5. Train all employees about heat-related injuries and how to prevent them, then spot them if they occur. Brief exposure can cause burns, and longer exposure can result in conditions such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
If you find yourself suffering this summer because of your sweltering work environment, it is crucial you go to your employers and ask for some of these modifications. If they don't follow through, consult with an attorney who works with workers' compensation cases to learn what actions you should take next.