Safety Meeting What if…

Heat Stroke

“Oh, Great, another safety meeting”, “I know they are important but I also know this stuff”, I have been here forever, why do I need this?” These are some of the comments I would hear when I was the Loss Prevention Safety Manager for a Home Improvement warehouse.

Getting the staff to be engaged was always a challenge until I introduced the What if” game. Here is how it goes.

The “What if” Game

Leader: What if you come around the corner of a piece of equipment on a remote job site and find and find a coworker bent over a pile of vomit, you touch their shoulder and the feel very hot and dry. Their skin is red and they are breathing fast and shallow. They look up at you with a lost confused look. It’s 90 degrees out and there is no running water available.

Leader: What if you come around the corner of a piece of equipment on a remote job site and find and find a coworker bent over a pile of vomit, you touch their shoulder and the feel very hot and dry. Their skin is red and they are breathing fast and shallow. They look up at you with a lost confused look. It’s 90 degrees out and there is no running water available.

What is wrong? 

Workers: They are experiencing heat exhaustion.

Leader: it is worse than that, it is Heat Stroke.

The signs and symptoms of;

  • Heat Exhaustion
    • Heavy Sweating
    • Cool, pale, clammy skin
    • Fast, weak pulse
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Muscle cramps
    • Nausea
    • Confusion
    • Weakness, overly tired
    • Dizziness
    • Headache
    • Passing out (fainting)
  • Heat Stroke
    • High Body Temperature
    • Hot, Red, dry Skin
    • Fast, strong pulse
    • Headache
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Confusion
    • Loss of consciousness

Leader: What do you do?

Note: This where is it gets fun.  Staff will start coming up with ideas. Make sure they are making sure the scene is safe and they are getting help on the way.

Worker 1: Make sure the scene is safe. Get the attention of my coworker to help and have someone call 911.

Leader: OK, help is 30 plus minutes away then what?

Worker 2: Cool them Down fast

Leader: How do you do that on a remote job site? 

Worker 1: Put them in the Supervisor’s truck with the AC on high.. 

Leader: the AC, only cools the surface, we need to cool them from the core rapidly.. 

So how can we rapidly cool them on this highway construction site

Worker 3: Poor water on them.

Leader: Where do you get the water from?

Worker 4: Our lunch pails in our water cooler.

Leader: That’s not enough water out in that remote site. What are some other options?

(At this point to come up with a lot of different little options, and my job is to get them to an actual solution that can be applied with what they have on site.)

Worker 2: Pour water on them from the water tender.

Leader: You only have about 50 gallons of water left in the tender, will that be enough?

Worker 3: Put the water in the supervisor’s truck.

Worker 5: I don’t think the Cab will hold the water.

Worker 1: no put it in the bed of the truck

Leader: The water is just gonna leak out of the truck bed, and by the time you get a tarp in there to do that he is unconscious.

Worker 6: The bucket of my loader holds water.

Worker 1: You know putting him in the bucket is an OSHA violation.

Leader: You are correct. According to the Boise OSHA office, anytime a human in the bucket it is a violation.

Worker 4: How about digging a shallow trench, about 12″-18″ deep and put the water in it?

Continue the conversation until you come up with a solution that would actually work.

Advantages

By playing the “What-if” game with real-world situations that could occur on your job sites and encouraging the employees to figure out a solution will better prepare them for those emergencies. Our job is to make sure that we keep them safe and don’t cause any more harm period. Things that we want to do is make sure that they call for help. They secure the scene as best as they can. And they.attend to the patient while waiting for that help. 

These scenarios will allow you to develop realistic action plans for different emergencies in your work environment. Remember to follow the guidelines for first aid and CPR when applying these to your situations.