Safety: Heat Illness Prevention
Hello my Sisters and Brothers,
I pray you are doing well and are staying healthy. I do understand the stressful environment and worries that come with being in a pandemic. As Director of Safety and your brother, I am always concerned for your safety and well-being. You all work in a dangerous construction trade and must stay focused. ALWAYS. You must be aware of your surroundings and those members working around you. I will never stop preaching that we are our Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper. Currently, wearing a mask or covering is a nuisance but is a necessary nuisance. We must be vigilant and continue to physical distance. WE will get through this together. Because we are IBEW. And we are family.
What concerns me this moment is the excessive heat you all are working in. I want you to know that heat is the number 1 weather related killer in the U.S. We have record breaking heat and we must use the tools and info to keep us working safely. Workers need to be provided with water, rest, and shade. It is the law. Along with NIOSH, OSHA has developed an app, available for iPhones and Androids, that calculates the heat index in your location and gives you corresponding risk level. The app also provides information on symptoms of heat-related illness and first aid. Heat- related illnesses include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat rash and severe dehydration —ALL OF WHICH ARE PREVENTABLE.
You must understand we have a very large group of apprentices to look after. We have many new members organized into the trade. For new workers, acclimatization is particularly important. Research shows that it can take one to two weeks to adjust to the heat, and a 2016 study found that of the 23 heat related deaths, 17 occurred within the first 3 days on the job. It is important to know the signs and react to those in heat distress. Hydrate. Start the conversation at break or lunch. Many of the new members will not complain. As in our rich history and tradition of looking after each other, we must physically watch and observe. We must verbally ask the questions. “Are you Ok?” “Have you drunk any water lately?” We need to advise and make sure they do. The is no shame in being safe and if any contractor or member does not adhere to this concern, please call me immediately.
California standards applies to outdoor workers and as of 2017 indoor workers as well. It specifies protocols like provision of shade when temperatures exceed 80 degrees and implantation of high heat procedures when temperatures exceed 95 degrees. It also states that employees are to be provided fresh, cool water free of charge and that it be located as close as possible to work areas. You may have received this info before as I helped write an article for “The Electrical Worker” and I have taken some info from there.
My sisters and brothers, I care for and worry for your safety daily. Please work safe. Call me for advice. Call me to report unsafe conditions, and that includes not enough water or shade. For more information on OSHA guidelines and for tips on how to stay safe, visit www.osha.gov.heat. For info on Cal-OSHA California Code of Regulations Title 8 Section 3395. Heat Illness Prevention in Outdoor Places of Work. https://www.dir.cas.gov/title8/3395.html. I have emailed all agents, so they also have this info on hand as well.
In closing, work safely. Work together. Lift one another. Take care of each other. I am honored to serve you. I am proud to call you all my sister or brother and friend.
May God bless, protect, and watch over you, yours, and our IBEW family.
Yours in Brotherhood,
Bro. Ivan De Herrera, Jr.
Sr. Asst. Business Manager
Director of Safety
IBEW Local 11
297 N. Marengo Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 243-9734 (office)
(626) 660-9479 (cell)