Thomas Morrison, Portacool: Beat the heat
According to a recent report by BMI Research, governments are pouring investment into infrastructure across the Middle East and North Africa. This massive growth means private and government organisations need to ensure productivity remains high throughout the summer months to reach development demands and goals.
In today’s business climate, productivity is crucial. Moving faster and more efficiently often contributes to a company’s success or failure. Outdoors, or in large, open facilities that lack air conditioning, excessive heat, and heat-related stress can dramatically slow workers down. In fact, American scientific studies in plants have shown that as temperatures rise over 85oF, output drops by 18% and accuracy suffers due to a 40% increase in errors.
Therefore, cool working environments should be a necessity to combat the toll taken on the worker and the company’s bottom line. From a health perspective, it is important to understand how the body handles heat and hot conditions when evaluating the potential for employee heat-related illnesses. As temperatures rise, the body releases heat more slowly. As humidity increases, sweat evaporation decreases and stagnant air makes sweat evaporation even more difficult.
When these three factors are combined, you have a higher potential for health and safety concerns. The chances for accidents due to sweaty hands, dizziness, and decreased mental alertness increase considerably. Additionally, higher body temperature and discomfort can lead to irritability and frustration that could lend to more careless behaviour. Workers who are not properly prepared for the heat put themselves, their colleagues, and workplaces at risk.
Dubai’s updated strategic plan for the period of 2016-2021 states that the government’s top priorities include sustainability of the city’s environment, providing world-class and high-quality services, and efficient urban planning, as well as ensuring excellent infrastructure is available to achieve these goals. The region’s construction pipeline remains robust – and that is unlikely to change in the near future. Mega projects continue to create immense opportunities, not only for the construction sector, but also for the economy of the UAE as a whole. That being said, it also means organisations in the region will have to increase the labour force to provide the manpower necessary to help build these high-rises and roads. The groups must share the
The groups must share the responsibility of ensuring that every individual involved is protected. Fortunately, there has been an awaking of consciousness when it comes to how companies deal with worker’s health and safety in the UAE and the wider region. Portacool has been taking steps to educate business owners and managers about the need for keeping work environments cool to limit the strain on productivity when temperatures outside are uncomfortably hot.
Portacool stresses the importance of interventions to ensure employees operating during the extreme heat are considered and well looked after. The company is working with contractors in the region to raise awareness about the dangers of heat stress. Portacool will be a fundamental supplier for the development of cooling stations for labourers on various construction sites. These cooling stations are designed specifically for workers to withstand the soaring temperatures keeping them safe and productive.
As temperatures continue to soar in this region, here are key factors that can help mitigate the effects of heat stress or heatstroke and cut work-related accidents and ill-health:
• To prevent dehydration, take a fluid break at least every 15 minutes and avoid diuretics such as coffee, tea, alcohol, or soda, as these can deplete body fluid. Take breaks in cooler, shaded areas and rest regularly.
• Avoid rapid exposure to temperature extremes. Allow your body to adjust naturally by incremental exposure to extreme temperature versus heating up and cooling down and then repeating this process.
• Use cooling pads that can be inserted into hard hats or around the neck to keep the head and neck cool. Vented hard hats or neckbands soaked in cold water also can be used to minimise prolonged heat exposure and prevent the body from overheating.
• Wear light clothing that allows your body to cool itself using natural evaporative cooling produced from sweat and circulated air.
• Wear sunscreen. When you are active outdoors for long periods, sunscreen needs to be applied regularly.
• Watch for symptoms. Symptoms of heat stress include excessive sweating or no sweating at all, nausea, goosebumps, weakness, tightening muscles, or dizziness.
• Consider energy-efficient cooling methods, such as evaporative cooling, to cool large, open air spaces. Fans simply circulate stale air. Portacool evaporative coolers come in a variety of sizes to cool any space where traditional air conditioning is impractical or cost-prohibitive.
• Take it easy. Your body will tell you when it’s time for a break. Don’t ignore it. Take a rest period in a cooling station to reduce core body temperature and refresh yourself before continuing with your activities.
These represent precautionary measures that is suggested for those working outside to follow in order to avoid heat stress. Of course, educating employees to recognise the symptoms of heat illness, the steps to take to reduce their risk and first aid in the event of a co-worker suffering from heat exposure are also be essential. As record-breaking temperatures continue to make an impact this summer, Portacool portable evaporative coolers provide a cost-effective, mobile option for cooling spaces of up to 511 sqm, helping firms achieve rapid cooling when and where it’s needed the most.