Summer Heat Safety
Read Time 3m

It's Getting Hot in Here

Summer heat safety for small businesses.
It's Getting Hot in Here

Please note: the following article was developed for educational purposes only and covers a wide variety of general workplace safety concerns and considerations, some not relevant to workers’ compensation coverage. 

As the summer months approach and temperatures are already beginning to soar, small business owners are feeling the heat—quite literally. We recently conducted a comprehensive workplace safety survey of 1,034 small business owners as defined by companies with 1-500 employees where a remarkable 94% of small business owners said they feel prepared for the hot summer days ahead, but the reality may be more complex. 

Are small businesses really ready to tackle the challenges posed by extreme heat?

Last summer was Earth’s hottest since global records began in 1880, and forecasters are predicting that this extreme weather will continue this summer. Small businesses should consider making a plan or evaluating existing plans for how to protect their employees during the hotter summer months.

Mixed Results and an Industry Standout

A closer look at our survey data reveals a mixed bag of preparedness. 

For example:

  • 65% of survey respondents said they have already adjusted or are planning to adjust safety measures to account for rising temperatures during the summer.
  • However, a concerning 35% have no such plans. 

Heat safety should be top of mind and a lack of planning could pose significant risks to both employees and small business owners.

The survey results weren’t all storm clouds, however. The construction industry stood out for its high level of preparedness. A notable 83% of small business owners in construction have made or are planning to make adjustments to safeguard their workers from the heat, well above the average. This proactive stance demonstrates the construction industry's recognition of the dangers imposed by high temperatures.

In addition, there's a stark generational divide in the approach to heat safety. Younger small business owners, aged 18-34, are leading the charge, with 92% having made or planning to make adjustments for rising temperatures. In contrast, only 37% of business owners aged 55 and older have taken similar steps. This disparity highlights the need for a more uniform approach to heat safety across all age groups.

Employee concerns are also driving changes. About 31% of small business owners reported that their employees have been increasingly vocal about how rising temperatures are affecting their work. This heightened awareness among workers is prompting many businesses to rethink their safety practices.

For those businesses that have already adjusted their heat protocols, the most common updates included installing better air conditioning and cooling devices (57%), mandating water and rest breaks (53%), and providing additional training to recognize the signs of heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion (49%). These measures are essential for creating a safer and more comfortable work environment during the hot summer months.

Tips for Protecting Your Business and Employees from Extreme Summer Heat

Given the potential dangers, it’s important for all small business owners to take proactive steps to protect their businesses and employees from the extreme summer heat. While impossible to eliminate all risks, here are some suggested steps small businesses can take to safeguard themselves:

  • Invest in Cooling Solutions: Ensure that your workplace is equipped with adequate air conditioning or cooling devices. This can help maintain a comfortable indoor temperature and prevent heat-related illnesses.
  • Mandate Regular Breaks: Implement policies that require employees to take regular water and rest breaks, especially during peak heat hours. This can help them stay hydrated and reduce the risk of heat exhaustion.
  • Provide Heat Safety Training: Offer training sessions for employees to help them recognize the signs of heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Educating your team can be a crucial step in preventing serious health issues.
  • Adjust Work Schedules: If possible, consider adjusting work schedules to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Early morning or late afternoon shifts can help reduce exposure to extreme heat.
  • Encourage Hydration: Make sure that cool, potable water is readily available to all employees throughout the day. Encourage them to drink water regularly, even if they don't feel thirsty.
  • Create Shaded Areas: For outdoor work environments, provide shaded areas where employees can take breaks and cool down.
  • Monitor Weather Conditions: Keep an eye on weather forecasts and heat advisories. Be prepared to make adjustments to work schedules and safety procedures as necessary.

For further support, here is a summer heat safety checklist for small businesses. By taking these steps, small business owners can help to better protect their employees. 

Pie Insurance commissioned Yougov PLC to conduct the survey. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1034 US small business owners, as defined as companies with 1-500 employees. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th - 27th February 2024. The survey was carried out online.

Thanks for reading! This content is intended for educational purposes only and does not imply coverage under workers’ compensation or other insurance offered through Pie Insurance Services, Inc. Please consult an agent or attorney for any questions regarding applicability of insurance coverage in all circumstances.