How to be prepared for an Atlanta summer as an employer

There’s a reason that Atlanta has earned itself the nickname Hot-lanta. Summers can be absolutely brutal, with temperatures skyrocketing into the upper 90s. We also have to combat the humidity, which is its own struggle. The constant state of feeling sticky and sweaty are occupational hazards of being an Atlantan in the summer. But the sweltering temperatures and heavy air aren’t just uncomfortable—they’re also dangerous. For people who work outside, the heat can become a killer if it causes heat stress.

If you’re an employer who manages employees who work outside, there are a few things that you can do to make sure that your employees are safe in the summer heat. Of course, it’s important to remember that even employees who work inside can suffer from heat sickness. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to provide a safe workplace for your workers. But that’s not the only reason to practice heat safety—as we said before, the heat can be fatal.

How can people get sick from the heat?

The body has natural methods of regulating its temperature. When the body gets too hot, it tries to cool itself down. However, if the temperature and humidity are high (as they always are during Atlanta summers) the body might not be able to cool itself off. That’s how people can get sick.

How bad is heat sickness?

There are different severities of heat stress. We’ll go over them from least severe to most severe. Note that any of these conditions warrant attention, if not professional medical treatment.

Heat rash: Heat rash is caused by sweating profusely. It presents as bumps on the skin, particularly in areas that sweat a lot.

Heat cramps: Cramps are caused when salt is lost from sweating. It presents as pain in the muscles. To treat heat cramps, get the worker to a cool place and give them a sports drink or water to drink slowly. Let them rest for several hours. If you know they have a heart condition, get them medical attention.

Heat syncope: Dizziness or faintness from long periods of standing. Dehydration can sometimes cause syncope. If one of your workers becomes faint or dizzy from the heat, let them rest in a cool place and give them water—but make sure they drink slowly.

Heat exhaustion: This occurs when someone loses too much water and salt through sweating. The symptoms are excessive sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, clamminess, pallor, muscle cramps, and rapid/shallow breathing. If one of your workers presents with these symptoms, have them rest, drink water, and cool them off.

Heat stroke: This is a potentially fatal condition. It occurs when the body gives up the fight and stops trying to cool itself. The signs are hot/dry skin, hallucinations, chills, headache, confusion, vertigo, or high temperature. This is not to be taken lightly and requires medical attention immediately. Call 911, get the person to a cool or shaded area, and do everything you can to cool them down—you can use wet towels and fans.

What are some risk factors for heat stress?

It’s important to remember that heat illness affects workers who are indoors, too. Workers who are around machinery or objects that emit lots of heat or who come into contact with hot objects are also at risk. 

If your workers are required to wear protective clothing or suits, they can also overheat. A lot of the time, protective clothing doesn’t breathe. This can lead to heat stress. Be aware of what your workers wear on the job and take appropriate steps to give them enough rest and breaks.

What can I do to reduce the risk of heat-related illness?

Train your employees and supervisors.

Make sure that your employees and your supervisors can recognize the signs of heat stress in themselves and others. If they know what to look for, they’ll be able to catch it sooner. Training is also a good time to talk about how vital it is to drink plenty of water. Also be sure to emphasize that workers need to tell the supervisor about any symptoms of heat illness ASAP.

Allow for workers to have time to build up a tolerance to the heat.

Workers who are new to outdoor labor, who are returning to work after time off, or who are facing the heat for the first time in the season are especially at risk for heat illness because their bodies haven’t had time to acclimatize to being in the heat. Allow for new workers to take lots of breaks and start them off slow—let them increase their workload over time.

Provide lots of water.

OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) recommends one pint per worker per hour. Water is your friend. Dehydration, not so much. Let your workers drink lots of water.

Give lots of breaks.

Workers need time for breaks in cool, shaded, or air-conditioned places so their bodies get to rest from the heat.

Pay attention to the heat index.

The heat index calculates the outdoor temperature and humidity. This is especially important in Atlanta—if you’ve ever experienced an Atlanta summer, you know that the humidity is absolutely brutal. In a humid place, sweat can’t evaporate and leave the body like it’s supposed to. Make sure that you’re aware of the risk of heat illness by understanding the heat index and taking precautions.

Make the workplace more comfortable.

Use air conditioning and ventilation systems. Fans and exhaust ventilation for super hot or humid areas will also help. You can also use reflective shields. It’s also important to make sure there are no places for steam to leak.   

Use protective clothing that allows for cooling.

You can get protective clothing that’s tripped out to keep employees cool. For example, there are jackets that have compartments for ice packs.

Respect the power of the heat. Take measures to combat it and don’t underestimate how severe heat sickness can be. Atlanta is both a hot environment and a humid one, and those things together are a recipe for disaster when summer hits. Be mindful of how hot it is outside and take care of your workers.

If you have any questions about your business insurance, we can help! We’ll take the time to understand your business’s specific risks and insurance needs. We’ll even get you a free quote. Call us today or fill out this form and we’ll help you out!

Sources:

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatstress/prevention.html#workpractices

http://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/employment-law-and-human-resources/heat-stress-osha-regulations.html

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heat_index/about.html

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatstress/prevention.html

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatstress/index.html

What you should know before hiring a commercial security system company

It’s an unfortunate reality, but having a business in the city opens you up to a host of crime. Atlanta’s no exception. There are plenty of burglaries and other crimes committed within the ATL. To protect your business, you might be thinking about getting a security system and cameras installed on your premises. We caught up with Ty Williams of ADS Integration to find out what his advice is for getting a commercial security system. (Williams was a radar technician in the Navy before getting into the security industry, and then he started his own business in 1999.)

We asked Ty what you should know before having a system installed in your place of business.

He started off by listing a few questions:

Is there a monitoring contract involved?

Many alarm installation and monitoring services try to get you to sign a 36-month contract for your alarm system. Some might have a contract that lasts 12 or 24 months. It’s important to know if you’re going to be bound into a contract because three years is a long time if you’re not sold on the service you’re getting.

What happens if I want to leave my contract? What if I’m not happy with the service?

Let’s say that you sign a three-year contract, but you want to get out of it. Things change. You’re not happy with the service. Sometimes there will be a hefty penalty to you for breaking the contract. The company might even make you pay out the contract in full—and that can be upwards of $1,000 depending on how far into the contract you are.  

We also found out how some alarm companies are able to give away free security systems.

Security system companies can install a system for free or very little money down because of the three-year monitoring contract that we mentioned before. They charge between $33-$40 a month for monitoring services, which comes to about $1,200-$1,400 over three years. The alarm system pays for itself. It takes about a year and a half of you paying those fees for the company to get their investment back. Even after the contract ends, you’ll still be paying the same fees.

We learned that Ty doesn’t ask his clients to sign a contract.

Ty has built his business on not asking his clients to enter a long-term contract. If the alarm company has you pay on a month-by-month basis, there’s no contract for them to hide behind. You have the freedom to fire them if you’re not satisfied with the service they’re providing. If they have you sign a contract, you’re stuck.

Ty noted, “You pay a little bit more upfront for the equipment but you own the system and you can have anyone monitor it for you.”

What if you already have a security system but want to change monitoring companies?

Ty said, “Any reputable alarm company can take over the monitoring for you. Some existing systems can be reprogrammed while others cannot.”  Er, what does that mean, exactly? “All that’s required is to change out the main panel and keypad,” Ty explained. “This will give you a new system with a warranty. This means you can have peace of mind without having to buy everything from scratch.”

Oh, that makes sense.

Here’s how commercial security systems deter employee dishonesty.

Employee theft is a growing problem that many Atlanta-based companies face. We asked Ty how a security system might help businesses avoid being burned by their employees.

He said, “Each commercial security system provides every employee with their own unique alarm code. This means you will be able to identify who opens and closes your store or business every day by looking at the alarm code entered into the keypad.”

You’ll be able to tell if your employees are getting to work late or if they’re leaving early. All you have to do is check the report—it’ll give you the time and date that your employees arrived and left. If you receive a report of an unauthorized entry late at night or on the weekend, you can check and see whose code was used to access the building. If you suspect that an employee isn’t being truthful about their hours worked, you can rewind the security footage and check on what time they arrived and left. As a result, you won’t end up paying someone for hours they didn’t work.

Seeing the cameras serves as a visual deterrent for any employee that’s up to no good, whether it’s fudging hours or thieving. Ty told us about a warehouse operator who feared that one of his employees was stealing parts. The cameras served as enough of a deterrent to remedy the situation.

Security systems can also prevent your HVAC system from being stolen.

We didn’t realize how big a problem this was in the Atlanta area. “I recommend connecting your HVAC compressor into your security system with an outdoor wall siren overhead,” Ty said. “This prevents people from stealing the compressor and selling it for scrap metal. When someone goes to cut all of the lines, the alarm goes off and the overhead siren scares them away.”

Ty reports saving many air-conditioners this way. That’s a nifty perk to having a security system.

You can prevent burglars from incapacitating your alarm system by going wireless.

If a burglar’s smart, they know to cut the phone lines leading into your building to keep the police from getting the memo that your premises is being looted. To combat this problem, security systems can be monitored wirelessly. You can’t cut what isn’t there. This is also handy if a storm knocks out the phone lines in your neighborhood. Since you’re not using physical phone lines, you’ll still be monitored.

But that’s not all. Ty pointed out that, “Another benefit is that a wireless communicator will allow you to receive warning alerts on your phone. They will also enable you to arm or disarm your system remotely. There’s no reason to give out your alarm code to a service person. You can remotely turn on your system and turn it off.”

Hmm, but what can you expect to pay for this convenience? “About $200 for the communicator and an additional $10 per month for monitoring,” Ty replied. “This is about half of what many Atlanta alarm companies are charging monthly.”

Ty also explained that his company’s wireless communicators allow you to watch the security feed on your phone. Neat!

Say cheese!

Covert cameras can also be placed around your building to catch burglars in the act. If they skirt the visible cameras, chances are one of the hidden cameras will still catch them. Ty told us about a burglar who broke into a leasing center in Lawrenceville not too long ago. The thief ripped the security system off the wall, but they smiled at their reflection in the glass of a clock. Little did they know that there was a camera inside the clock’s face, so their face was captured for the business owner to see. The police were able to catch the guy.

Let’s recap.

Why are security cameras so important for your business?

  • They allow you to monitor your business.
  • They allow you to monitor your parking lot.
  • They deter shoplifting.
  • They deter employee theft.
  • They allow you to observe accidents and injuries. (Ty has been instrumental in resolving several fraudulent workers’ compensation cases because of the camera system that he installed.)

The best part of this is that the footage can be viewed on your cell phone, tablet, or home computer if you have Internet access, though Ty suggested that you have a minimum of 15 to 20 MG Internet speed to take advantage of this service. This means you can check on the office while at home, on vacation, or on the golf course!

One final bonus to having a commercial security system that we’ll mention before we sign off is that you might just qualify for a discount on your insurance. Talk to one of our agents to see if you’re eligible. You can also feel free to ask Ty any questions about commercial security systems by visiting https://adsintegration.com.

If you need insurance for your business, give us a shout! You can either call us or fill out our quote form and we’ll get you a free quote. Our agents will make sure you have the customized insurance you need.

 

The benefits of office ergonomics

The city of Atlanta is full of buildings that stretch for the sky. Those big, beautiful buildings are filled with offices and cubes, right? For city dwellers, office jobs are common. If you’re an employer who works alongside your employees in an office building, you might think that you’re at a low risk of workers’ comp claims. There’s not much risk associated with talking on the phone, typing at a computer, or getting a cup of coffee.

Or is there?

Having an office job that requires sitting at a desk for long, extended periods of time, while not involving physical labor, is still hard on the body. Joints and muscles get sore and strained. Repetitive motions, like typing, can cause stress to joints. Wrists, backs, and necks are all in the line of fire when it comes to musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs. Some MSDs you might have heard of are carpal tunnel, lower back injuries or strains, and tendonitis.

But the good news is that there are things you can to do to take some of the strain off of your desk-bound employees’ bodies. You can help make your employees more comfortable and reduce their risk of injury.  

Read moreThe benefits of office ergonomics