16 Dec 2019
Combating Heat Stress With Cool Down Booths
One of the benefits of being a modular building provider is that a lot of products focus on keeping people safe and secure. The first thing off the top of your head may be Panel Built’s line of guard booths that can be fabricated with ballistic rated materials. However, our line of safety products stretches far beyond just security. Panel Built’s modular spaces offer a variety of ways to keep your employees safe from the elements as well!
Previously, we have discussed the importance of breakrooms to a manufacturing environment, creating a space for employees to relax and rejuvenate their minds. But Panel Built’s buildings can also fit into another application to keep your workers safe, Cool Down Booths. Cool down booths are an HVAC climate-controlled space for employees to take a break inside of, that are separated off from the rest of the work environment.
Why are Cool Down Booths Important?
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, a cool down environment could be vital for people that are exposed to or experience heat stress. Heat stress can occur on the body whenever a person’s core temperature is raised to a certain level which is often cited as 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. When experiencing heat stress, workers have a higher likelihood of experiencing heat-related illnesses like heat stroke, hyperthermia, heat exhaustion, heat cramps or heat rashes.  Some of these illnesses, if not treated with emergency care, can result in death. In addition to the illnesses, heat stress has an impact on worker productivity as well and can create a higher chance of other workplace accidents.
According to OSHA, there are a variety of factors that affect the likelihood of heat stress: age, weight, physical fitness, prior acclimatization, hydration, and more. However, employees of all sorts are susceptible to heat stress, when operating in high temperatures, high humidity, near a radiant heat source, in direct contact with hot objects, prolonged strenuous activity, or any combination of these things. 
Because many factors create heat stress, there are many different facility types and occupations that can be affected by it.
Where Are Cool Down Booths Most Often Needed?
There are a variety of environments that are susceptible to heat stress. For example, considering we are located in the southern United States, it could be just about any job where you take a step outside. With high humidity and high temperatures in our Summer months, any occupation with outdoor manual labor has a threat of heat stress. Which is why OSHA lists construction workers, emergency response operators, refinery workers, and many others as occupations at high risk
However, as many workers can tell you, just because a job takes place indoors doesn’t mean it’s going to be cooler. As we mentioned earlier, high levels of radiant heat also create a risk of heat stress, and whenever this takes place in an indoor environment, these rooms can get very hot, very quickly. OSHA provides a few examples of this in industrial settings including, “foundries, brick-firing and ceramic plants, glass products facilities, rubber products factories, electrical utilities (particularly boiler rooms), bakeries, confectioneries, commercial kitchens, laundries, food canneries, chemical plants, mining sites, smelters, and steam tunnels.”
Since these occupations take place both indoors and outdoors, Panel Built, Inc. offers cool down booth variations for both environments. For indoor, Panel Built can adapt our inplant office systems to operate as a cool down and rest area for employees. By sectioning off an area with Panel Built’s modular walls using high R-Value panels and our HVAC systems, you can create a fully climate controlled space inside your facility to help employees beat the heat.
For outdoor environments, the same can be done with one of Panel Built’s exterior buildings, similar to our guard booths. In many cases, Panel Built will receive requests a trailer mounted variant of our exterior booths. Many companies that work outdoors in different locations will utilize this building type as a mobile cool down booth which they can take to job sites. The booths can be outfitted with their own HVAC system and generator in order to be self sustaining wherever their work takes them.
How Do Cool Down Booths Help?
There are a variety of ways to prevent/treat heat stress. In the case of Panel Built’s Cool Down Booths, primarily “air treatment/air cooling” will be used. This removes the heat from the air, allowing the employee to cool down and recover. Now, OSHA considers ‘air treatment” by itself as an expensive method to install/ operate as a means of combating heat stress. However, they do recommend “local air cooling” as an effective means of keeping particular areas cool, which is how Panel Built’s cool down booths operate. By creating a smaller, climate-controlled space near the operating floor, employees have a fast and convenient way of cooling down when needed, and it does not require the company to try and air condition the entire facility. OSHA recommends using these recovering areas in conjunction with regularly scheduled rest periods and water breaks for the workers.
There are other options for keeping employees cool that are important to note here as well. “General ventilation” within a hot facility should probably be the first step taken in order to reduce heat stress in a facility as it’s typically the most cost-effective means. Additionally, by regularly replacing fluids, reducing the physical demands, monitoring workers, and slowly acclimating workers to a hotter environment employers can reduce the risk of heat stress. Additionally, specialty garments can be used to keep employees cool, including reflective clothing, water-cooled garments, ice vests, and personal circulating air systems.
If you or your company is looking for a way to keep your employees cool during the work day and think a Cool Down Booth would be the right fit for you. Give us a call at 800.636.3873, send us an email to info@Panelbuilt.com, or let us know in our LiveChat feature in the bottom right of your page. We are more than happy to help with any questions, concerns, or quotes you may need.