Preventing Heat Stress During Crane Hire Operations
Heat stress is a serious health concern, even more so in professions dealing with heavy machinery such as operating cranes. It is important to know how to deal with heat stress, but better to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Factors Leading to Heat Stress
Heat stress is the effect of being unable to regulate your body temperature by sweating and radiating heat. The physical effects of heat stress include exhaustion, cramps, and rashes. Heat exhaustion causes intense sweating, though the skin will still feel cool and look pale.
Heatstroke will cause the sweating to stop and the skin to turn blood red with a high temperature. In severe cases, heat stress can cause dizziness, fainting, and even death. Heat stress can be due to high external temperatures, insulating clothing, or an illness causing the body’s temperature to rise.
- Environment — Prolonged exposure to the sun or the general heat of the summer increases the rate of dehydration. Factories with heavy machinery can radiate a huge amount of heat. Crane operators working in dry-air processes are sometimes unaware of the heat due to the lack of humidity.
- Clothing — Protective clothing is there for safety, with reflective surfaces, and acts as a shield from chemicals. Safety clothing is often thick and insulating, making it difficult for sweat to carry heat away from the skin.
- Workload — Employing a single person to perform all the tasks of a crane operator increases their physical and mental strain.
- Illness — Medications and vaccines can also change the body’s normal temperature making that person more prone to heat stress. With an infection, the body raises its temperature and causes it to dehydrate faster.
Tips and Practices for Preventing Heat Stress
A majority of crane work goes on outdoors, often taking many hours. But there are some tricks and practices to reduce the risk of heat stress and to make the lift safer.
Here are some ideas for reducing heat stress on your crane workers:
Recognising the symptoms of heat stress and the types of situations that cause it is key in prevention. Providing basic safety training to your crane employees helps them to understand the risks of heat stress. Training gives employees the knowledge on how to reduce their exposure to heat stress on-site.
Providing drinking water to your employees is a given, but it is up to them to drink it. Workers that are too busy focusing on the job at hand may forget to rest and to drink some water. Sometimes we need reminding that we are thirsty — signs, fellow workers, or management can all help.
Men should drink three and a half pints of water a day, and women around 3 pints. This consumption should increase with the amount of exertion you use and the ambient temperature. Some studies say that you can use your weight in pounds, divide by ten, and drink a quarter of that number in pints.
“For example, a 200-pound person should drink 5 pints of water per day!”
Work and Rest
Employees should have regular working hours with rest periods throughout the day. Work schedules are even more important during the summer months and help to prevent heat stress. Scheduled rest periods give crane workers a chance to cool down and are another reminder to hydrate.
Operating a crane on a skeleton crew may seem cost-effective, but it is a serious safety issue. Relying on one or two people to control a large crane puts a lot of stress on the operation. Adding help means that each employee gets more time to rest and hydrate out of the heat, reducing the likelihood of an accident.
For complex and lengthy lifting operations, it may be a good idea to have the worker’s temperatures measured and checked for signs of heat stress. You can even specify that each employee takes an active approach to checking their visual appearance and those of fellow workers. They can also remind each other to rest and hydrate.
High-visibility clothing is a must, though this adds a further challenge to staying cool. The shade from hard hats and long-sleeved shirts will help prevent sunstroke. Safety glasses with tinted lenses help to lessen sun-glare and dizziness when looking up to the hoist.
Checking the forecast the day before the lift will help to prepare you and your employees in reducing heat stress. You can also mount thermometers to the side of the crane cabin as a visual representation and as a reminder to stay cool.
Emerson Crane Hire is passionate about safer lifting. We hire our cranes out with the most highly trained operators in the industry. If you would like to know more about how we improve crane safety, then contact us today!