Water. Rest. Shade. Stay Safe While Working in the Heat

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It is that time of year again.  Days are getting longer, and temperatures are rising, which means summer is right around the corner.  Now is a great time to take a moment to remind everyone how to stay safe and take care of themselves in the heat.

According to OSHA, dozens of workers die and thousands more become ill while working in extreme heat or humid conditions every year.  More than 40 percent of heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry, but workers across every industry can be affected.  Heat-related illnesses can impact us all, regardless of age or physical condition.

OSHA has a simple prescription for avoiding heat-related illnesses: Water. Rest. Shade.  Their “Water. Rest. Shade.” campaign seeks to raise awareness among working people of their rights at work and the simple steps they can take to avoid becoming part of next year’s heat statistics.  In addition, the campaign website provides resources and guidance materials to employers in responding to hot weather hazards. OSHA identified industries particularly at risk for hot weather hazards including agriculture, construction, landscaping, and transportation.

OSHA encourages companies to establish heat illness prevention programs as employers are responsible for protecting workers from extreme heat conditions.  Make sure workers have access to water, rest and shade, allow new or returning workers to gradually adjust to work in extreme conditions and take frequent breaks, plan for emergencies and train workers on prevention, and monitor workers for signs of heat-related illnesses.

Often-times workers do not realize they are suffering a heat-related illness.  Heat-related illnesses can include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, fainting, heat rash and severe dehydration. All are preventable.

Here are a few tips to control heat stress:

  • Use cooling fans to increase air movement and shading to block direct sunlight
  • Ensure rest areas are cool and shaded
  • Take frequent rest breaks between strenuous work activities
  • Perform more stressful tasks during cooler times of the workday
  • Dress appropriately–wear loose cotton clothing, clothing with a SPF value, or a cooling affect; avoid dark heavy clothing when possible
  • Drink plenty of liquids to replenish your fluid loss and eat salt on foods, do not use salt tablets
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • Train workers on recognition and prevention and always watch out for each other

Conducting a heat-related safety meeting?  Use Appruv’s Heat Stress Safety Meeting form, also available for download in our Resource Center.

 

DOWNLOAD HEAT STRESS SAFETY MEETING

 

The OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool smartphone app can also help you take precautions against outdoor heat while at work. This free app offers real-time heat index and hourly forecasts, specific to your location, as well as occupational safety and health recommendations from OSHA and NIOSH. The OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool is a useful resource for planning outdoor work activities based on how hot it feels throughout the day.  Click here for more information and to download the Heat Safety Tool App.

For more information about OSHA’s “Water. Rest. Shade.” Campaign, please visit www.osha.gov/heat.

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