Summer 2012 Volume 56

Feature Articles

Avoiding Injury

To provide policyholders with guidance on reasonable accommodations according to new legislation, EMC Occupational Consultant Kate Benson-Larson is participating in several educational sessions facilitated by Roy Matheson, an industry-respected expert in the area of work evaluation training. According to Benson-Larson, these sessions reconfirm EMC’s stance that best practices for employers dictate a specific action plan to eliminate or greatly reduce the costs of lost time injury claims, as well as avoid Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) involvement. This action plan consists of:

  • Developing a strong company policy and program of reasonable accommodations
  • Updating all job analysis/functional job descriptions to validate essential functions, identifying accommodated duty assignments and creating a library of accommodated duty job descriptions
  • Providing physicians and therapists with accommodated and essential functional job demands information on each injury claim
  • Using treating physicians and therapists who are knowledgeable of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and recent amendments, and professionally function according to those standards

Understanding Reasonable Accommodations

Early return-to-work programs and accommodation of injured workers remain important examples of injury management best practices. However, when considering if reasonable accommodation are actually reasonable on a case-by-case basis, Benson-Larson reminds employers that:

  • Employers do not always have to provide the specific accommodation requested, but can choose from other effective options.
  • Employers do not have to provide accommodations that create an undue hardship for the employer.
  • Employers are not required to provide personal use items needed to accomplish activities both on and off the job.
  • Employers do not have to make accommodations for individuals who are not otherwise qualified for a job.
  • Employers do not have to remove essential functions, create new jobs or lower production standards for an accommodation.

Keep Informed

Benson-Larson is anticipating significant changes to the world of occupational medicine, workers’ compensation and safety. Count on EMC® to keep you up-to-date on how these changes may impact you and your employees. You’ll also want to check with legal counsel regarding ADAAA compliance.

Defining Reasonable Accommodations

One of the key nondiscrimination requirements of Title I of the ADA is the obligation to provide reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities. According to the ADAAA, a reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job, the work environment or the way things usually are done that enables a qualified individual with a disability to enjoy an equal employment opportunity. Examples of reasonable accommodations include making existing facilities accessible; job restructuring; part-time or modified work schedules; acquiring or modifying equipment; changing tests, training materials or policies; providing qualified readers or interpreters; and reassignment to a vacant position.

Play It Cool

“It’s relatively easy to control the risks associated with ‘hot work’ when the work is confined to a designated area within a workplace,” notes EMC Engineering Services Supervisor Chad Veach. “However, the risks intensify when those operations are conducted outside of the designated ‘hot work’ area.”

Between 2005 and 2009, the United States averaged 3,165 fires, $145 million in property damage, eight deaths and 166 injuries per year relating to torch, soldering and burner equipment, according to the National Fire Protection Association. “The best way to minimize the potential for these types of fires is to use a permit system that requires all employees and contractors to follow specific guidelines when performing hot work,” notes Veach.

The Value Of A Hot Work Permit System

A written hot work permit helps ensure that all precautions to reduce the risk of fire when working outside a designated hot work area have been taken. Some of the key elements of a hot work permit program include:

  • Permit Authorization—The hot work permit should contain the name of employee or contractor authorized to perform the hot work, location of hot work area, nature of work to be performed, issue date and expiration date of permit, and the signature of the authorizing supervisor.
  • Permit Posting—Hot work permits should be printed on highly visible colored paper and posted in a prominent location.
  • Precautions and Safeguards—The supervisor authorizing the permit should verify that all hazards have been controlled in the hot work area before any work begins. Hot work should not be authorized until hazardous conditions have been eliminated. Never take a shortcut, even if the hot work will only be performed for a few minutes.
  • Fire Watch—A fire watch should be maintained in the work area during all hot work operations and for at least 60 minutes after work has been completed. Fire watch personnel should not leave for breaks, lunch or other reasons, unless relieved by another person.
  • Employee Training—Training should occur initially and as needed when deficiencies are noted. All training should be documented with the names of employees, trainer and date of training.

“It only takes a few seconds for a fire to get started as a result of embers from welding tools igniting insulation, leaves or other building materials,” notes Veach. For guidance on hot work safety, Veach suggests the following sources:

What Is Hot Work?

According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, hot work operations include, but are not limited to, soldering, welding, pipe-cutting, heat-treating, grinding, thawing pipes, hot riveting, torch-applied roofing and any other application involving heat, sparks or flames.

Chemical Hazard Protection Hazardous Chemicals

To better protect workers from hazardous chemicals, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has revised its Hazard Communication Standard, aligning it with the United Nations’ Global Harmonization System (GHS). The new standard, once implemented, will prevent an estimated 43 deaths and result in an estimated $475.2 million in enhanced productivity for U.S. businesses each year.

“Exposure to hazardous chemicals is one of the most serious dangers facing American workers today,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “Revising OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard will improve the quality, consistency and clarity of hazard information that workers receive, making it safer for workers to do their jobs and easier for employers to stay competitive in the global marketplace.”

EMC Industrial Hygienist Krista Scott has spent considerable time reviewing how the new ruling will impact EMC policyholders. “For starters, it will reduce confusion about chemical hazards in the workplace, facilitate safety training and improve understanding of hazards, especially for low literacy workers,” says Scott. OSHA’s standard will classify chemicals according to their health and physical hazards. The standard also establishes consistent labels and safety data sheets for all chemicals made in the United States and imported from abroad. “It may take time for people to make the shift from old to new technology,” admits Scott, “but adapting to the new rules, which will go into effect on Dec. 1, 2013, will have a positive impact on employees and employers.”

For additional information for workers, employers and downstream users of hazardous chemicals, Scott recommends reviewing OSHA’s Hazard Communication Safety and Health topics at http://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/index.html.

A Link Between Long Workdays And Depression
A study conducted at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and at the University College in London found that working long hours can increase a person’s risk of becoming depressed, regardless of how stressful the work is. Researchers noted that some positive work characteristics, such as high control or high rewards at work, may buffer an employee against the adverse health effects of long working hours. Review the study, “Overtime Work as a Predictor of Workplace Depressive Episodes,” at www.plosone.org.

Arc Flash And MultiHazard Gloves
Today, more multihazard gloves are available on the market, and multihazard protective products are becoming the norm. Currently, rubber insulating gloves are the only option for protecting against arc flash and shock. This is likely to remain the case in the near future, although companies are researching using materials other than rubber. To read more about gloves in arc flash, visit www.ohsonline.com/articles/2012/01/01/gloves-in-arc-flash.aspx?sc_lang=en.

NINE Countermeasures For Roadway Safety
The Federal Highway Administration launched a web page featuring the following nine countermeasures it considers most effective for establishing roadway safety:

  • Vertical pavement edges
  • Roundabouts
  • Roadway transitions into major roads and highways
  • Controlled contrast backgrounds for traffic lights
  • Rumble strips for two-lane roads
  • Lighting and surface considerations for high-risk roadway curves
  • Lighting and surface considerations for high-risk roadway curves
  • Pedestrian-activated warning devices
  • Roadway configurations such as center two-way left-turn lanes

For more information, visit the Federal Highway Administration online.

Other Topics

Hazard Communications Krista Scott

Complying to the Global Harmonization System (GHS) will not only help keep your employees safer from chemical hazards, but it will also help reduce the likelihood that your organization will face fines. EMC Industrial Hygienist Krista Scott recommends the following five-step implementation plan to assure compliance:

Step 1: Become educated on the new hazard communication standard requirements by viewing OSHA’s side-by-side comparison.

Step 2: By Dec. 1, 2013, train all employees on the new classification and labeling system.

Step 3: By June 1, 2015, modify your current written hazard communication program accordingly.

Step 4: Also by June 1, 2015, obtain updated safety sheets (SDS) for all chemicals within your facility. (Distributors may ship products labeled by manufacturers under the old system until Dec. 1, 2015.)

Step 5: By June 1, 2016, modify all labels within your facility to comply with the new standard.

Scott and other EMC loss control professionals are ready to assist you in adapting to the requirements of the new GHS rule.

Because each hiring decision ultimately affects an employer’s bottom line, it is both a priority and a challenge to hire the right employee who is capable of doing his/her work safely and productively. EMC Insurance Companies is sensitive to this concern and has created an informational guide that details the benefits of prework screening in the hiring process and outlines steps you can use to develop your integrated program. Using appropriate prework screening, you can:

  • Determine whether or not job candidates can safely perform the essential physical demands of the job for which they applied, were selected and given a conditional job offer
  • Use a properly constructed assessment tool that is medical in nature and legally defensible because it is based on measurable task criteria
  • Know, step by step, how to establish a prework screening policy and measurable protocols

Download a PDF of the Prework Screening Guide.

Insights Online

Contractors

A new OSHA PowerPoint presentation demonstrates the heavy financial cost resulting from falls in construction. OSHA’s analysis of fall injuries found that falls from elevations by roofers cost an average of $106,000 each, and falls from elevations by carpenters cost an average of $97,000 each.

Construction is a potentially high hazard industry for those who work in it, with falls at the top of the hazards list. In fact, falls are the most frequent cause of fatalities at construction sites and annually account for one of every three construction-related deaths, according to figures from the Occupational Safety And Health Administration (OSHA). A new OSHA PowerPoint presentation documents the heavy financial cost associated with falls. Key information from the presentation is:

  • Falls from elevations by roofers cost approximately $54 million per year. The average lost time claims cost approximately $106,000 each.
  • Falls from elevations by carpenters cost approximately $93 million per year. The average lost time claims cost over $97,000 each.
  • The average cost of a fall from elevation for all other occupational classifications was under $50,000.
  • Falls from ladders or scaffolds by roofers cost approximately $19 million per year. The average lost time claims cost approximately $68,000 each.
  • Falls from ladders or scaffolds by carpenters cost approximately $64 million per year. The average lost time claims cost nearly $62,000 each.

You can view the entire presentation at www.osha.gov.

Some Fall Prevention Tips From OSHA

Falls and falling objects can result from unstable working surfaces, ladders that are not safely positioned and misuse of fall protection. Workers are also subject to falls or to the dangers of falling objects if sides and edges, floor holes and wall openings are not protected. Any time a worker is at a height of 6 feet or more (construction industry), or four feet or more (general industry), the worker must be protected.

Unprotected Sides, Wall Openings And Floor Holes

Almost all sites have unprotected sides and edges, wall openings or floor holes at some point during construction. If these sides and openings are not protected at your site, injuries from falls or falling objects may result, ranging from sprains and concussions to death. Use at least one of the following whenever employees are exposed to a fall of six feet or more to a lower level:

  • Guardrail systems
  • Safety net systems
  • Fall arrest systems
  • Cover or guard floor holes as soon as they are created
  • Guard or cover any openings or holes immediately
  • Construct all floor hole covers so they will effectively support two times the weight of employees, equipment and materials that may be imposed on the cover at any one time
  • In general, it is better to use fall prevention systems, such as guardrails, than fall protection systems, such as safety nets or fall arrest devices

Ladders

Workers risk falling if portable ladders are not safely positioned each time they are used. While the ladder is being used, it may move and slip from the supports. Workers can also lose their balance while getting on or off an unsteady ladder. Falls from ladders can cause injuries ranging from sprains to death. To help prevent this:

  • Position portable ladders so the side rails extend at least 3 feet above the landing
  • Secure side rails at the top to a rigid support and use a grab device when a 3-foot extension is not possible
  • Make sure the weight on the ladder will not cause it to slip off its support
  • Before each use, inspect ladders for cracked, broken or defective parts
  • Do not apply more weight on the ladder than it is designed to support
  • Only use ladders that comply with OSHA standards

Respirators protect workers against insufficient-oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors and sprays. These hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment, other diseases or death. OSHA recently posted a series of 17 videos to help workers learn more about the proper use of respirators on the job.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has posted a series of 17 videos to help workers learn about the proper use of respirators on the job. These short videos (nine in English and eight in Spanish) provide valuable information to workers in general industry and construction. Topics include OSHA’s Respiratory Standard, respirator use, training, fit-testing and detecting counterfeit respirators.

The videos are available with closed-captioning for streaming or download from OSHA’s website. OSHA’s Safety and Health topics page on Respiratory Protection also includes additional training materials, information about occupational respiratory hazards in different industries and details of OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134 and 29 CFR 1926.103).

Download the OSHA videos.

Local Governments

Fatigue and poor sleep quality, which affect many emergency medical services (EMS) workers, are linked to higher reported rates of injuries, medical errors and safety-compromising behaviors.

Fatigue and poor sleep quality, which affect many emergency medical services (EMS) workers, are linked to higher reported rates of injuries, medical errors and safety-compromising behaviors, according to a study by University of Pittsburgh researchers that is now available online in Prehospital Emergency Care and appears in the January-March 2012 print edition.

Emergency medical technicians and paramedics work long hours in a demanding occupation with an unpredictable workload, which can easily lead to fatigue and poor sleep, according to a study by University of Pittsburgh researchers. “Our study is one of the first to show that this may jeopardize patient and provider safety in the EMS setting,” said lead author P. Daniel Patterson, Ph.D., EMT-B, an assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Dr. Patterson and his colleagues surveyed 511 EMS workers from across the country. A previously tested tool called the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index was used to evaluate their sleep quality, including factors such as sleep duration and use of sleeping medication. A questionnaire measuring fatigue and adapted for the EMS environment was used to assess physical and mental fatigue. The researchers also developed a new 44-item survey tool to elicit self-reported safety outcomes data, including provider injury, medical errors or adverse events, and safety-compromising behaviors, such as excessive speeding.

In the survey sample, more than half of the respondents were classified as fatigued; 18 percent reported an injury, 41 percent reported a medical error or adverse event and 90 percent reported a safety-compromising behavior. After controlling for extraneous variables, the researchers found the odds of injury were 1.9 times greater for fatigued respondents vs. their nonfatigued peers; the odds of medical errors or adverse events were 2.2 times greater; and the odds of safety-compromising behavior were 3.6 times greater.

Most survey respondents reported working between 6 and 15 shifts per month, and half reported regular shift lengths of 24 hours. A third of the respondents were regularly working at more than one EMS agency. In the sample, the number of shifts worked monthly was linked to reported errors and adverse events, but not to injury or perceptions of compromised safety. Longer shift hours were not associated with higher odds of negative safety outcomes—perhaps because the study did not measure the varying workloads and ability to rest during each shift—the researchers speculated.

“While further research is needed to examine the association between self-reported and actual safety outcomes, our findings provide preliminary evidence that sleep quality and fatigue are important indicators of EMS safety,” said Dr. Patterson. “Our data also suggest that number of shifts and total fatigue, instead of shift length, may be important targets for intervention in this workforce.”

For more information, visit UPMC.

The percentage of obese or overweight firefighters has risen to “alarming levels” and has surpassed the percentage of the general public that is obese and overweight, according to a report released by the National Volunteer Fire Council.

Rates of overweight and obese individuals in the fire service are higher than those found in the general public, according to a study published by the National Volunteer Fire Council (NFVC). Researchers looked at the body composition of both career and volunteer firefighters across the nation, with overweight and obesity rates ranging from 73 percent to 88 percent.

The research demonstrates that a large percentage of firefighters do not meet minimal standards of physical fitness. "Addressing the Epidemic of Obesity in the United States Fire Service" looks at the impact of obesity, the scope of obesity in the fire service and why obesity has become an epidemic.

Occupational factors may place firefighters at high risk for weight gain, including:

  • Shift work
  • Sleep disruption
  • Unhealthy eating patterns in the firehouse
  • The absence of fitness standards for firefighters

"This report will urge everyone from national fire service leadership, to department chiefs, to individual firefighters to think creatively and join in efforts to reverse the negative trends of unhealthy body weight and poor physical fitness," the report says. "It is time to begin a national conversation regarding obesity in the fire service.”

The report outlines how overweight and obese firefighters have been shown to suffer from a large number of problems compared to their colleagues, including hypertension, higher risks for cardiovascular disease, low fitness, reduced muscular strength and more frequent cardiac events.

"Overweight and obese firefighters are less fit to perform their jobs and cost fire departments significantly more than firefighters at a healthy weight," the report adds. Snacking was identified as a particular challenge at the firehouse; having an abundance of high sugar or high carbohydrate snacks around the station was consistently reported as being a big challenge among those surveyed.

“You have that downtime, you know, and it’s easier to have M&Ms, a Snickers bar in the firehouse than it is to have a carrot or celery," said one responder to the survey. Another added, "What kills us sometimes is during holidays or like, 9/11, families around the fire station bring in food. And they mean the best intentions, but they bring in the worst food for you—cookies, cake and stuff.”

As firefighters gain more weight, research has found that cardiorespiratory fitness plummets and the risk of cardiovascular disease increases, the report says.

"There is solid evidence that suggests physical fitness is related to job performance and the performance of simulated firefighting tasks (e.g., hose and ladder carry, donning SCBA, climbing three flights of stairs, rescue and body drag, etc.). "The fact that so many firefighters are not fit is troubling. This situation may be at least be partially due to lack of agreement over fitness and body composition standards in the fire service and the fact that few departments engage in regular monitoring of body composition and physical fitness in their firefighters."

Among the recommendations the report makes for the fire service to combat obesity and increase fitness are:

  • Fire departments should consider conducting annual fitness assessments.
  • Minimal fitness recommendations for all firefighters should be a priority.
  • An effective fitness program can be implemented by fire departments at minimal cost and using existing facilities.

The NVFC partnered with the HOPE Health Research Institute for the report, which was supported by the U.S. Fire Administration.

Reprinted with permission by FireRescue1

Petroleum Marketers

What type of remote tank monitoring system is right for your operation? The Propane Education and Research Council’s tank level monitoring systems matrix can help you find the system to optimize delivery schedules and assure customers of a reliable and constant supply of propane.

The distribution of propane for on-site use in the United States is characterized by significant numbers of bulk product deliveries to numerous storage tanks in the field, from small to large in size. These deliveries may be as frequent as daily or as infrequent as once per year or less. The propane consumption from each of these tanks can vary with changing customer needs and with the weather. In most applications, it is important and often essential to keep a usable supply of product in the tank that is sufficient to meet the customer’s needs. As a result, tanks are almost always filled too frequently, and as the other extreme, sometimes tanks become empty. Both of these conditions are costly to the propane supplier, to the customer relationship, and to customer needs.

The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) in its Propane Vision and Technology Roadmap identified remote tank-level monitoring systems as an important area in need of investigation, development and dissemination of information for the U.S. propane industry. Since many companies are involved in the development of different parts of these overall systems and many different technologies can be employed for each of the three main parts of the system, PERC funded a study to gather basic information about these systems. The purpose of this report is to identify the manufacturers and base characteristics for remote sensing components and systems. The information has been placed in a matrix that allows interested marketers to quickly review and identify the different manufacturers and components/features available. This will allow marketers to not only consider the potential benefits for their particular propane storage operations, but also help them design an initial program to test equipment and systems that may suit their applications.

You can download a PDF of this matrix at

Download a PDF of this matrix.

There is no other form of larceny that costs more money annually than employee theft, according to the most recent National Retail Security Survey. Retailers attributed 45% of their inventory shrinkage to employee theft in recent years, which translates into an annual employee theft price tag of $15.9 billion.

Is employee theft a problem? Of course. It always has been. Nobody wants to believe a new colleague or manager can violate their trust and commit a criminal act, but every good retailer understands employee dishonesty is a reality in stores, distribution centers and corporate offices. Retail losses from employee theft are staggering. Results of the National Retail Security Survey found that merchandise theft by employees accounted for $15.9 billion, or 44 percent of theft losses at stores in recent years.

The key to most crime in retail — internal or external — is opportunity. Store associates and managers have access to cash registers, restricted areas, and know the store layout and loss prevention techniques better than customers. Because many associates and managers are responsible for on-site loss prevention, they can pinpoint camera locations, know the local security officers, and even become friendly with store management.

Over the years, employee theft has evolved. Historically retailers experienced employees taking cash straight out of the register or wearing new merchandise out of the store. In a game of cat-and-mouse, many retailers have evolved their prevention-and-detection techniques, installing sophisticated exception reports, camera systems and employee tip lines.

One common scenario is “sweet hearting”, where an employee adds extra merchandise into a shopping bag when friends or family members are standing at the register. Another example might be when a waiter or waitress collects customer credit card information for later use (this happened just a few months ago in Washington).

In some cases, the employees are involved in organized retail crime activity, fencing stolen merchandise and fraudulently obtained goods for cash, drugs or other goods through a variety of methods. Similar to professional shoplifters, these fence locations include swap meets, flea markets, pawn shops and temporary stores.

They can also be online e-fencing operations, where stolen merchandise is sold through auction sites. In this regard, the retail industry is not alone. Whether it’s stolen computers in Seattle or music instruments in Columbus, schools and other groups have also been targets of “inside jobs”, where employees steal merchandise and anonymously resell the goods either in pawn shops or over the Internet.

In response to this illegal and unethical activity, retailers deploy scores of loss prevention techniques ranging from better pre-employment screening, sophisticated register tracking systems and even HD-quality, smart camera systems. The most effective programs include heightened employee awareness, laying out clear Standard Operating Procedures, auditing programs and soliciting honest associates to report anything suspicious to management or loss prevention. Some companies even offer a financial incentive for such information.

Retailers work hard to develop comprehensive loss prevention programs and consider any type of theft a serious issue. While prevention is always ideal, theft does happen. And when these activities are identified, employees are terminated and most likely prosecuted for their crimes.

While companies continue to crack down on internal theft, the problem can’t be solved alone. Through continued cooperation with law enforcement, retailers will continue to track stolen merchandise through secondary markets, protecting customers from purchasing stolen goods. If criminals—be it outsiders or “insiders”—are permitted to continue to profit from their crimes, retail losses will continue to rise and, unfortunately, so will prices.

Reprinted with permission by Joe LaRocca and The National Retail Federation

Schools

While only two percent of tornadoes achieve the most violent classification, one quarter of tornadoes are powerful enough to cause 90 percent of the damage and two-thirds of the deaths. Read how wind-resistant construction can reduce the risk of structural damage from weak to moderate tornadoes.

Last year, more than 1,600 tornadoes were recorded in the United States, resulting in the deaths of 550 people. In fact, if it were taken as a whole, the 2011 spring tornado season would rank as the fourth-costliest disaster for insured losses in U.S. history, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

“We cannot undo the tragic events of this spring or last year,” said Julie Rochman, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) president and CEO, “but we can change future outcomes for the better by taking steps now to reduce losses and the level of catastrophic damage wrought by windstorms.”

“Although, at some point, even the best engineering can be overwhelmed by natural forces and the laws of physics, homes and commercial buildings that have been strengthened in critical ways definitely can increase the likelihood that at least part of the structure will remain standing to provide some shelter and protection for people in harm’s way,” noted Rochman.

In preparation for the 2012 tornado season, IBHS has produced a new report offering guidance on how the risks posed by tornadoes can be reduced in commercial buildings. The report provides a geographic regional analysis of tornadoes along with guidance and suggests methods for reducing property risks.

Source: Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety

High school athletes lose more than 9,000 days of athletic activity a year as a result of heat-related illness, according to report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. These illnesses most often strike athletes during practices, and overweight athletes are more susceptible.

Heat illness during practice or competition is a leading cause of death and disability among U.S. high school athletes, according to research funded by National Collegiate Athletic Association, American Football Coaches Association and National Federation of State High School Associations. To examine the incidence and characteristics of heat illness among high school athletes, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data from the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study for the period 2005-2009.

  • Between 2005-2009, the 100 schools sampled reported a total of 118 heat illnesses among high school athletes, resulting in more than one day of time lost from athletic activity and an average of 29.5 time-loss heat illnesses per school year.
  • The highest rate of time-loss heat illness was among football players.
  • Time-loss heat illnesses occurred most frequently during August (66.3 percent) and while practicing or playing football (70.7 percent).

Tips For Exercising Safely In The Heat

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) offers the following guidelines to guard against heat illnesses among athletes:

  • Gradually increase activity in terms of intensity and duration in the heat. This prepares the body for more intense, longer-duration exercise in warm conditions and helps prevent injury and heat illness.
  • Intersperse periods of rest during activity and assure adequate rest between exercise bouts. Rest breaks are an important defense against heat illness, and proper sleeping habits decrease the risk as well.
  • Begin outdoor activities only after athletes are properly hydrated. Water or sports drinks should be available throughout physical activity in the heat.
  • Exercise during cooler portions of the day (early morning or late evening) if possible.
  • Do not allow athletes to participate in intense exercise if they show signs of an existing illness (i.e., fever, diarrhea, extreme fatigue, etc.). These can decrease the body’s tolerance for heat and increase the risk of a heat illness. Back off on exercise intensity or duration if an athlete is not feeling well (i.e., walk instead of run, cut the session short, etc.)
  • Athletic events should employ an athletic trainer for coverage to assure proper medical supervision, recognition and treatment of possible injuries and heat illness.

Tips For Treating Heat Illness In Athletes

If you suspect an athlete is suffering from heat illness, NATA recommends the following actions:

  • Move the athlete to a cool environment and to rehydrate. Maintain normal hydration (as indicated by baseline body weight).
  • Hydrate with a sports drink like Gatorade, which contains carbohydrates and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) before and during exercise to replace losses and provide energy.
  • Hydrate throughout sports practice to minimize dehydration and maximize performance.
  • Seek medical attention to replace fluids via an intravenous line if athlete is nauseated or vomiting.

Reprinted with permission by The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention and The National Athletic Trainers’ Association.