Most heat illnesses occur in the first few days of working in the heat. To prevent this, acclimation (adjusting to the heat) is very important. Gradually increase your exposure to warm temperatures. Most people are completely acclimated in four to seven days.
Take more frequent breaks when working in the heat and at the first sign of heat stress symptoms. Don't overdo it. Work at a comfortable pace. If you can, alternate job tasks so you are not in the heat for extended periods of time. Schedule more physical tasks for the morning or evening hours when temperatures are cooler. Reduce manual labor by using mechanical assistance whenever possible.
A healthy diet and body can help prevent heat illness. Excess weight traps heat in your body and forces your heart and glands to work harder to get rid of it. Other risk factors include alcohol consumption, caffeine, and old age. Exercise regularly and eat a healthy, balanced diet. Consult your doctor about exposure to heat if you have an existing medical condition, or are taking medication, or are overweight.
The above guidelines should be part of any heat stress prevention training program. Creating a respect and awareness of the hazards heat stress presents will greatly reduce the amount of heat stress related incidents and accidents.
As an aircraft maintenance professional, you need to adapt the above best safety practices to the specifics of your job functions. No one knows your specific situations better than yourself. Apply best safety practices to meet your exact workplace needs.
Justin Bruursema is a producer at Summit Training Source, for the past 22 years, the leading provider of environmental, health, and safety training programs. Summit offers over 600 training programs in multiple formats, including interactive CD-ROM and online training. You can preview any Summit program by going to www.safetyontheweb.com.