The Heat Is On!

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Matt White is the Director of Tire Services for the Tire Industry Association (TIA). He has over 34 years of experience training technicians from all over the globe on how to stay safe on the job. Photo Matt White

Crazy weather makes PPE a must.

Tire technicians are up against a tough summer this year, but that doesn’t mean anyone can slack off with their PPE.

Yes, it’s hot. There are wildfires creating smoke in the air, rainstorms, hail and all kinds of freak weather. Sometimes the heat alone can tempt you to forget to wear long sleeves, boots, glasses, hard hats and gloves. But it doesn’t matter what the temperature is because if you don’t put on your PPE, you’re in harm’s way.

With the wildfire smoke, masks are a necessity. We’ve gone from a pandemic right into some of the worst wildfires in history. Wearing a mask can help protect you from breathing in these dangerous fumes.

Wear your rain suit

In a lot of shops, the doors are up and down so air conditioning may not be helping. With high humidity, you need to be drinking water to stay hydrated. Energy drinks—you know what I’m talking about—are not going to help. In fact, the caffeine in those drinks actually contributes to dehydration. They are not your friend. Get proper sleep so you don’t need the caffeine to stay awake.

And as if the heat and smoke aren’t enough, there are also severe thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes. Montreal and Ottawa have been hit with tornadoes, which is practically unheard of. Remember to wear your rain suit, seek shelter and stay out of danger.

Watch for signs of heat stroke. That includes loss of sweat (a very bad thing), dizziness, headache, and feeling faint. Many of you do a lot of grinding. You have to wear long sleeves and it’s a requirement to wear a face mask. Don’t take shortcuts or you could become disoriented. You could make the wrong move with a piece of equipment, like forgetting to put a jack stand under something. That could result in serious injury.

In our business, you have to be on top of your game all the time. So take frequent breaks, hydrate, slow down, plan out jobs and remember to watch out for your co-workers and employees. Remember the buddy system and keep an eye on the guy next to you.

Action plan

If you’re on the road, make an action plan. Bring a cooler, wet towels, find shade and report in regularly. Make sure your truck’s air conditioning is working well. If you don’t feel well, get into an air-conditioned space.

Wear sunscreen and light clothing. If things aren’t going well, sit back and take a break, drink some water. When you’re up to it, go back to the job.

Even if it’s not super busy, there are still vacationers, people on the road and farmers that are in between crops. They’ll require work on their tires, have breakdowns and need your help. People in the mining world are out in the sun, they don’t have any shade. They’re especially vulnerable.

Supervisors need to cut down on schedules with employees as necessary, and overall make sure they have safety briefs about the heat, smoke and hazardous weather. Be on your game, watch out and adapt to situations.

Be cautious, smarter, watch the weather and keep everyone up to date. Load the coolers, make sure everyone’s hydrated, and get people out of the sun. Get an action plan in place and observe standard operating procedures—don’t overbook or overschedule, and it can be a good, profitable summer for everyone.