Prioritizing Worker Safety: Combating Summer Heat for Facility Maintenance Pros

Summer is officially here, and the hottest days of the year are in the near future. As the mercury continues to rise, it’s important that facility maintenance professionals keep worker safety at the top of their priority list.

Workers at particular risk for heat-related illnesses are those who work outdoors, around equipment or in other hot environments with limited cooling capacity. If workers utilize metal components that are susceptible to temperature fluctuations, they may be at risk of severe burns when handling these objects. Plus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pointed out that anyone required to wear personal protective equipment at work has an even greater risk of heat illness.

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Heat illness poses a serious risk

Twenty workers experienced extreme heat-related illness during 2012 and 2013, the most recent years for which this data is available, according to the CDC. Thirteen of these cases resulted in death; four of these occurred on the worker’s first day on the job. These tragic instances can be avoided when facility managers learn about the dangers of heat stress and take the proper steps to prevent it.

There are many ways to mitigate overheating on the job. Many of these include workers being in tune with their own bodies and physical limitations; staying hydrated; wearing loose, cool clothing and sometimes even soaking that clothing in water to cool down the body, according to the CDC.

While these are all excellent places to start, it’s also important that employers provide workers with an environment suitable for laborious work. Often, that starts with an adequate air conditioning system and various pieces of equipment to complement that system. For example, a high-speed, low-velocity fan can improve the air conditioner’s effectiveness. And, as a bonus, the HVLS fan can cut energy costs.

However, the only way air conditioning systems and warehouse fans can create the most health-forward environment is if they are properly installed from the get-go and regularly inspected and maintained throughout their life span. By working with Miner, facility managers can be sure that these two steps are properly executed, and that their warehouse, plant or other work environment is kept as cool as possible, thus reducing the chances of overheating among employees.

Why your A/C needs a helping hand

When you consider all the ways to keep a building or work environment cool, having an adequate air conditioner likely comes quickly to mind. It’s true: Air conditioning can work wonders for a naturally hot building, such as one filled with heavy machinery or a plethora of metal. However, for the facility manager making every effort to keep costs low, air conditioning might, at times, seem more like a detriment than a benefit.

Luckily, savvy facility managers know there’s one way to keep the air conditioning running effectively while reducing the financial strain. That solution is installing HVLS fans.

HVLS fan blades can span anywhere from 7 feet to 20 or more feet. Their long blades slowly rotate, circulating large swaths of air at a time. Given their slow, steady pace, they don’t cost much to operate. But the cooling power they provide feels anything but cheap. HVLS fans do several things to benefit your warehouse.

First, the massive circulation effort dissipates the large pockets of hot air that are common in large, tall or excessively hot buildings.

Second, the air movement allows for greater evaporation. When people get warm, they sweat; this is the body’s method of cooling them off. As the sweat evaporates, it takes away some of the heat. Since HVLS fans increase evaporation rates, workers feel cooler.

Finally, since the fan makes the whole environment feel more comfortable (and more importantly, safer) for workers, the air conditioning unit doesn’t need to work as hard to keep the warehouse cool.

Worker safety must always be top of mind. It’s important to remember that, as the seasons change, workers are introduced to different risks. This summer, ensure that your workers are aware of the symptoms and risks of heat illness and that they’re not working in an unhealthy environment.

To learn about how you can add HVLS fans to supplement your air conditioning in your warehouse, reach out to Miner Corp. Our experts will come out to your facility, evaluate your needs, determine the building’s capabilities and devise an appropriate solution.