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Heat and cold can be stressful: Stay safe on your barge

There are dozens of ways that a person could get hurt on a barge, but some that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been focusing on include heat stress, heat stroke, dehydration and heat cramps.

Why focus on these environment-related injuries? Barge work can be intensive. Barge cleaning workers, in particular, are often asked to work in dangerous workplaces where there are risks like being exposed to the sun or heat for long periods of time.

It's not just heat that is a problem, though. High humidity and poor air movement can also lead to environmental hazards that could potentially harm workers.

In cooler regions, hypothermia and frostbite appear as the riskier hazards. That's why, regardless of location, the team working on a barge needs to have the right personal protective equipment. Your team should have temperature-specific attire ready. For example, if you'll be working near the equator, it makes sense to have lightweight, breathable clothing. It makes sense to have regular breaks to get out of the sun and to rest in a cool environment.

Similarly, if you're going to a cold location, your team should have waterproof clothing to keep them dry and warm clothing that will keep in their body heat.

Both heat and cold stress can be fatal if not taken seriously. That's why all members of a crew should learn about recognizing the signs of environmental hazards and be able to tell when their co-workers need support. They should also receive safety training to teach them what to do in an emergency, so all workers can be kept safer.

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