Monitoring and Preventing Utility Worker Heat Stress
Many jobs require protection from heat stress - a potentially life-threatening illness that results from exposure to extreme heat.
Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) research offers valuable insight into heat stress in the electric power industry, where workers are at higher risk of exposure to dangerous heat levels due to their clothing and proximity to power sources.
OSHA standards and recommendations can be an effective method for preventing heat stress. Still, a one-size-fits-all prevention strategy should be closely evaluated.
Following OSHA recommendations, combined with the assistance of Kestrel 5400 Heat Stress Tracker Pro, can keep electric utility workers safe and avoid lost productivity, injuries, and litigation. These guidelines are not limited to electric workers and apply to utility workers in other industries, including iron and solar energy.
How Heat Adaptation Matters with Heat Stress
There are several reasons why a universal heat stress prevention plan is not always practical.
These reasons include:
- Those who are newer to working outdoors in high temperatures are more susceptible to heat stress. It can take the body 7 to 10 daysto get acclimated for working in hot conditions as an electric utility worker.
- In 2005, OSHA discovered that 80% of heat-related incidentsaffected workers who were new to the job and working four or fewer days.
- Over-protection can result in less productivity for electric utility workers who are heat tolerant.
- Under protection can compromise safety to those who are not yet used to working in hot conditions, resulting in physiological strain.
Heat Stress Index Monitoring
No matter the industry, it's important to monitor environmental conditions, including Heat Stress Index. Heat Stress Index or Heat Index indicates how hot it feels by taking into consideration relative humidity in addition to temperature. The Kestrel 5400 Pro provides this calculation along with other critical heat stress measurements such as Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT). Below is a chart from OSHA as a heat index guide for employers:
OSHA recommends carefully increasing the workload of new employees within the electrical utility field, as well as ironworkers and solar energy workers. Newer workers will have different work limitations than seasoned employees. This is yet another reason to be cautious about using a one-size-fits-all heat prevention strategy.
Using Kestrel to Monitor Potential Heat Stress Conditions
While implementing regulations to prevent heat stress in the workplace, Kestrel can take the guesswork out of safe vs. dangerous environmental conditions. The Kestrel 5400 Pro is specifically designed as a heat stress meter to keep utility workers safe within all industries. Its useful features provide insight into the critical conditions affecting safety and performance. These features include:
- Flag warnings via a loud buzzer which sounds when conditions are near or reach danger zones
- Instantaneous and average WBGT readings
- Preprogrammed with industrial guidelines to ease the set-up process
- Tracks and logs over 10,000 sets of time-stamped data
- And more
Kestrel is an ideal tool to save lives and prevent heat stress in utility workers. By keeping this incredibly accurate and portable device on hand, you can have peace of mind knowing that workers of all skill levels are safer on the job.