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Avoid Heat Stress in Your Job Shop

Avoid Heat Stress in Your Job Shop

With summer weather approaching, here’s a look back at how PBZ has kept and continues to keep the job shop a comfortable working environment for all of the employees.

Matt Davenport works under hot conditions while a large fan provides some relief. Heat stress is a concern for those who work in job shops. Simple precautions, such as fans and coolers of water, can help prevent it.

A job shop can be an uncomfortably hot place. Working in a job shop in summer raises concerns over occupational heat exposure. With rising temperatures outside and an increase in humidity, work conditions become even more of a challenge. It’s especially difficult for welders, who must wear heavy protective gear while working, and whose equipment radiates heat.

Brandon Sauder restocks a cooler with Gatorade to help keep employees of PBZ manufacturing hydrated.
Brandon Sauder restocks a cooler with Gatorade to help keep employees of PBZ manufacturing hydrated.

PBZ takes extra precautions to make sure their employees are not at risk for heat stress and heat-related illness. PBZ opens all its doors and supplies job-site fans, and individual fans at workstations, on at-risk days to prevent heat stress. A well-stocked cooler of Gatorade is provided to the staff and they are reminded to stay hydrated.

While recently taking a break inside its air-conditioned lunch room, welders Addison Good and Jordan Sensenig said they try to cool down and rehydrate when summer days pose a risk for heat stress.

Acclimating to the job shop environment came easily for Sensenig since he used to be a landscaper and was used to strenuous work under extreme heat. “You do have to slow down and drink water,” he said.

PBZ welders say the headband inside the welding helmet can cut down on excessive sweat. Although long-sleeve shirts are preferred for protection during welding, short-sleeve shirts may be an option if a separate welding sleeve is slipped on for protection. (However, never compromise personal protective gear or equipment with modifications in an attempt to stay cool). Also, some MIG guns have ventilated handles, which may help prevent slippage from perspiration during use.

Matt Davenport works under hot conditions while a large fan provides some relief. Heat stress is a concern for those who work in job shops. Simple precautions, such as fans and coolers of water, can help prevent it.
Matt Davenport works under hot conditions while a large fan provides some relief. Heat stress is a concern for those who work in job shops. Simple precautions, such as fans and coolers of water, can help prevent it.

If possible, schedule welding jobs during the morning hours and any grinding for the afternoon hours. For any job shop task, heat-relief cooling towels may provide some comfort.

OSHA takes heat-related illnesses seriously. They can be prevented inside your job shop with some forethought. (Learn about two types of heat-related illness here.)

The American Foundry Society’s Safety & Health Committee recommends that you:

  • Provide ways for workers to acclimate themselves to hot work assignments.
  • Provide ways for workers to “replenish body fluids and electrolytes lost in sweating.”
  • Accommodate for rest cycles, preferably providing a cooled break room.
  • Design a place with supplies and support for heat strain monitoring and/or heat stress recovery.
  • Train employees to watch each other for any signs of heat stress.
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