The bulk of an HVAC technician's job is to work on heating and air conditioning units. This work is done to keep indoor temperatures at a comfortable level for the people living or working there. Especially in summer, it's crucial that people be allowed to stay cool.
But how do you keep your technicians cool? Their entire job revolves around going places without working air conditioning and leaving as soon as the units are fixed. The vast majority of their work is done in incredibly hot environments. However, by being aware of how HVAC techs can stay safe in the heat and providing heat safety tips, you can keep your employees cool and safe throughout the summer.
The Effects of Summer Heat on HVAC Technicians
To know the best methods for protecting HVAC techs from heat, you first have to understand the problems the heat can cause. Excessive heat can lead to several health issues for your workers. In some cases, they're limited to things like mild dehydration and tiredness. In more severe situations, however, the effects can be much worse.
One such situation is heat exhaustion, which occurs when your body overheats to the point of major, though not fatal, loss of function. Some of the main symptoms of heat exhaustion include the following:
- Dizziness and weakness
- Excessive sweating
- Pale, clammy skin
- Muscle cramps
- Weak pulse
- Extreme nausea and vomiting
- Fainting and loss of consciousness
Heat exhaustion is serious and should be dealt with immediately by moving the affected person to a cool area. Untreated heat exhaustion can worsen and become heatstroke, which can be fatal. It bears many of the same symptoms, with some key differences:
- Hot instead of clammy skin
- A strong instead of a weak pulse
- Confusion instead of mere dizziness
If someone has heatstroke, call an ambulance immediately.
How to Keep HVAC Techs Cool in Summer
It should now be evident that the consequences of extreme heat can be severe and should be taken very seriously. But when you spend so much time in intensely hot environments, how can you prevent heat exhaustion for HVAC workers?
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take several steps to keep heat exhaustion and heatstroke at bay. It just requires you to think ahead and take preventative measures. Here are some tips for keeping HVAC technicians safe in the heat.
One of the simplest ways to keep the heat from overpowering your workers is to limit the amount of time they spend in it. Working in a hot environment for long stretches of time will quickly lead to a temperature overload in their bodies. But if workers interrupt their work periods with short breaks in a cool environment, their body temperatures will never be able to reach dangerous levels before they cool off.
For this reason, be sure to encourage your technicians to take frequent breaks from the heat. Some workers can tend to try powering through long work sessions, so make sure these people aren't putting themselves in danger by staying in the heat for too long at a time.
Another very basic method for improving hot weather safety for HVAC techs is to keep them hydrated. High body temperatures tend to produce a good deal of sweat, which extracts water from a person's body to keep them cool. In response, the person must drink more water to replenish their fluids. To this end, make sure your technicians drink plenty of water while on the job.
It's also important to maintain a high intake of electrolytes, which regulate things like blood pressure. To address this need, you can provide your technicians with electrolyte water, or have them drink water and electrolyte-high sports drinks interchangeably.
Dress for the Weather
It's bad enough for your technicians to be stuck in an indoor space where the walls trap the heat from outside and amplify it to more extreme levels. The last thing you want is for the technicians' clothes to be doing the same thing to their bodies. Long sleeves and pants are not a good choice of outfit for an HVAC job. They keep sweat from evaporating and trap heat against people's skin.
Encourage your technicians to wear short pants and sleeves that allow sweat to evaporate off their arms and legs. Try to have them wear light-colored clothing as well, so they trap less heat. You may not always have that option depending on what regulations you're subject to, but if you can, it's a good idea to pursue shorter and lighter clothing.
Train Workers on Heat Exhaustion
For your workers to appreciate the need for breaks and hydration, they need to understand the consequences of avoiding those things. Provide all of your technicians with training about heat exhaustion and heatstroke — what causes it and what the symptoms are.
By doing this, you give them an incentive to take preventative measures and teach them what symptoms to look out for in themselves and their coworkers while on the job. This ensures that they can recognize heat exhaustion and heatstroke and deal with it promptly.
Work in Groups
One of the worst things you can do for your technicians is to send them into extreme heat alone. Always pair or group your technicians together on a job. Doing so will enable them to look out for one another.
This system provides a source of accountability, with workers keeping each other from spending too long in the heat. It also ensures that someone is on hand to respond to instances of heat exhaustion or heatstroke in their coworkers.
Insulate Work Vans
Not all of a technician's work happens inside a building with the air conditioning unit. Workers also spend plenty of time in the van, where they store their tools and equipment. But vans can be as prone to overheating as buildings can, so it's vital to take heat precautions there as well.
The best way to do this is to insulate your vans so the cool air remains inside. You can accomplish this by installing liners on the walls, doors and ceilings of the vans.
Get Your Van Outfitted Today
Looking for a way to insulate your van and keep your technicians cool? Advantage Outfitters, LLC has you covered. We offer work van outfitting for many different van brands, including ProMaster and Transit. We can help you insulate your van, and we offer shelving units and dividers for storing all your HVAC tools.
To get the equipment you need to increase your technicians' safety and efficiency, just get in touch with us today!