Hot Weather and Shop Productivity

Advice on taking care of the workforce during a heat wave. August 19, 2013

How much production can you expect (realistic) in 105 degree heat? The shop is not air conditioned, has few fans, and very poor air circulation. How far do you push guys to produce?

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From Contributor R:
What is average temp this time of year? If it is less than 85ļ, I think you are lucky they show up. It isn't just the manpower, the equipment is probably less productive too. I think you are doing very well if you are achieving 85% of normal production. Especially the older guys - heat has more effect on them. Some portable fans that could be directed at the guys could make a heck of a difference.

From contributor J:
In heat like that, everyone will need to be drinking a lot of fluids. A water fountain halfway across the shop is not sufficient; put a cooler full of ice and bottled water in the middle of the shop and make sure everyone knows it's there, and get some more fans. In other words, don't improve production by pushing; improve it by giving your employees what they need to be able to keep going.

From contributor W:
My guys (on their own) are coming in at 5 A.M. or so and leaving around 1:30 P.M.

From contributor S:
A number of box fans will make a big difference. I place a couple to blow fresh air into my shop, and set up a few for exhaust. I then place the rest around my shop to circulate air. Fans set up to cool work areas can also help.

If you have a small room or office with a window that is closed off from the rest of the shop you can get away with a small window AC unit. Any more than a 100-200 square feet though, and you would need a much larger unit.

I also try to start working at about 6:00 A.M., and then I will close up by about 2:00 or 3:00 P.M. This may be too much to ask employees, but you might want to show up early and give them that option. I find that if it gets up into the 90's my productivity goes down significantly. However in my climate a hot summer day consists of a high of about 85 degrees, with nighttime temperatures in the 50's or 60's.

If your guys are not used to working in 100 plus degree heat then it is more of a problem. Definitely encourage them to speak up and take a break if they start to feel sick. You may want to go over signs and symptoms of heatstroke, and dehydration with them. Both are entirely preventable, but if youíre not thinking about it it is easy to overwork yourself.

From contributor M:
They work as much as they as individuals are able. There is an extreme range of personal tolerance to heat. This is especially true with humidity which we are feeling on the east coast. As others have noted you should provide them with flexible hours. Spend a couple of bucks on some vent vans. However educate yourself about their use. Itís often better to use them at night to utilize the cold air rather than simply moving hot air around during the day. More importantly what's your plan for next week, month, and year. Insulation and well-designed ventilation can dramatically change a buildings performance. You only buy them once. If you get a bit of slow time, use the boys to insulate the building.

From contributor D:
What you can do: Fans, cold water, and early start hours. The initial heat the first few days is always a shock to the system but the human body quickly adapts, of course at a different rate for different people. The second week of this is easier than the first, and each week gets a little easier.