Summer is in full swing, and many parts of the U.S. are facing record-high temperatures and heat waves. Those who work in physically-demanding jobs are especially vulnerable to heat-related illnesses, and that includes many of the team members at our facilities across the country.
Safety is a top concern at Millwood, and our dedicated safety team takes specific steps to mitigate heat-related illnesses and injuries, especially during the summer months.
“Millwood recognizes heat hazards as a serious risk to the health of our team members,” Justin Lehr, safety director and EHS programs project manager said. “Our managers and supervisors address the hazard with awareness and communication to ensure our team members understand the necessity of staying hydrated.”
June and July safety calls and toolbox talk sessions specifically address heat hazards. Additionally, team members that are certified in CPR/First Aid receive specialized training in recognition and response to heat-related injuries.
Several of our facilities are located in southern states, including Tennessee and South Carolina. Because these facilities endure high temperatures throughout the entire year, they serve as an excellent resource for our northern-state facilities that experience heat emergencies only on a seasonal basis. Conversely, northern facilities are a resource for southern-state locations during the winter. Our facilities connect to one another to share best practices and safety information.
“The safety team recognizes the value in making that seasonal connection between facilities,” Justin said. “Addressing heat hazards has always been and continues to be a total Millwood team effort. While this is one of those hazards that can never be eliminated, we all recognize that there are always ways to improve.”
Kelly Singerline, plant manager of our South River, NJ operations, explained to Safety Specialist Christie Kocsis that she keeps bottled water, Gatorade and ice in coolers and popsicles in the freezer for team members when temperatures are very high. In addition to making sure her team stays hydrated, Kelly uses creative solutions to help her team stay cool.
“Recently, I hired an ice cream truck to come out for all shifts. Last year, we had Rita’s Italian Ice come to facility as well, and we may have them out again before the end of summer” Kelly said. “We encourage all team members to drink lots of water and take water breaks whenever needed during these heat waves.”
Safety Technician Tyler Mooney, who comes from the Carolinas, explained the importance of taking heat risks seriously.
“If I knew someone who wasn’t concerned with heat-related risks or doesn’t think heat is a risk, I would tell them to look at the effects of heat exhaustion,” Tyler said. “The symptoms of heat exhaustion can include dizziness, fever, fatigue, nausea, rapid breathing, clammy skin, swollen feet or hands and a fast heartbeat with low blood pressure.”
Tyler further explained that heat exhaustion is caused by dehydration, which is a result of a loss of fluids and electrolytes through sweat when the body gets too hot. If heat exhaustion does occur, you should drink fluids, find a cool place to cool down and rest. If symptoms are severe, seek medical attention immediately.
“Heat exhaustion is not to be taken lightly,” Tyler said. “When in doubt, stop and drink water.”
Heat safety is critical in physical labor environments, but it doesn’t have to be difficult to achieve. For more information on how to beat the heat and keep your manufacturing team members safe, read our summer heat safety tips.