Anyone in waste and recycling knows how large of a role the climate plays in our industry. From experience, the weather needs to be incorporated into your operating plans and procedures. For the sake of this article I’m going to focus on summer weather patterns. In the months of June, July and August in the state of Florida, it is typical to have peak temperature closing in on 100 degrees daily, not even counting the heat index (what it actually feels like). Add in the humidity, and you are well over 110 degrees. Having a summer safety plan is important to keep your operations running as smoothly and safely as possible.
While it is a basic assumption by all, there is more to battling heat than staying hydrated. Proper nutrition, hydration and sleep all play a vital role in helping employees stay ahead of the summer heat. Educating the entire staff by bringing in a third-party guest speaker is always a great idea too. Once all employees are educated on heat safety, they will be able to spot someone who may be affected by the heat and take preventative measures to avoid fatal or debilitating injuries that can arise if not dealt with in a prompt manner. Death is a very realistic outcome if someone is left exposed to the heat without proper care or medical attention. There are also important steps in treating someone with heat illness; not following the proper steps can actually make the situation worse and put a person into shock.
Another important factor is to make sure that your trucks are treated like people too. Ensure that all fluids are at the correct levels, services are performed within the hours/miles parameters your company has set and that the A/C is working for the employees operating the equipment. Heat can take a toll and quickly expose flaws in a maintenance program. Be sure to inspect all cooling system components thoroughly, replace coolant lines proactively, and do not disregard brake systems and tires. If all are ignored, you could be setting yourself up for breakdowns and/or accidents for failing components, resulting in unnecessary downtime.
Keys to Success
Taking a shortcut is never a good idea. Preventative is the key word when you are faced with the summer heat. As an example, when we change one hose of the cooling system, we change them all. If you don’t, the heat will always expose the weakest link. Prior to this tactic, I always felt like we were chasing a nonstop coolant leak. We decided to spend the money and replace all of them. For a few hundred bucks to replace them all together, it’s well worth it. Call it coincidence, but for all the trucks we run daily in Florida, I cannot remember the last blown coolant hose service call we had.
With my sports background, I was very familiar to team members falling out due to heat illness. It is very important, if you have not already, to invite a medical professional to your next safety meeting to discuss heat illness and the hazards it brings if ignored. It is also very important for the health of your fleet to educate all drivers and maintenance staff members on the importance of a well-maintained fleet. At the end of the day, when both items are regarded as a top priority, your safety record will stay impeccable and your breakdowns will be limited. | WA
John Paglia, III is a 4th generation garbage man. Before he climbed the ranks to become Florida Express Environmental’s (Ocala, FL) General Manager, he had a successful career in college and professional athletics. John has been around the garbage industry since his car seat days. Currently, John is focused on growing his company and offering the highest level of customer service and prolonging the world that we live in today. John wakes up every day knowing the impact professional haulers have on their community is far greater than most realize. He can be reached at (352) 629-4349, e-mail John3@ floridaexpress.us or visit www.floridaexpress.us.