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June 04, 2013
Florida focuses on working safely in the heat

Working outdoors in summer heat can be more than uncomfortable—it can be downright dangerous. As part of a focus on the hazards of working safely in warm temperatures, OSHA and Florida employers held a voluntary safety stand-down on June 4. The goal was to stop work for an hour and conduct safety training on symptoms of heat-related illness and how to keep workers safe.

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Worksites in other states across the southeast, including Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, also participated in stand-down events.

Every year, thousands of employees across the country suffer from serious heat-related illness. If not addressed, heat exhaustion can become heat stroke, which can be deadly. The problem is that performing labor-intensive activities like agriculture, construction, roofing, and landscaping in hot weather can raise body temperatures beyond levels that can be cooled by sweating.

The combination of heat and humidity that is common in Florida and other parts of the country is especially hazardous. OSHA recommends basic precautions, including:

  • Drinking small amounts of water frequently;
  • Taking frequent breaks in cool shade;
  • Eating smaller meals before working;
  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar;
  • Working in the shade if possible;
  • Being aware that respirators or work suits can increase heat stress;
  • Wearing light-colored, loose fitting clothing, and a wide-brim hat; and
  • Using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

If it’s not already on your training calendar, consider devoting an upcoming safety meeting to heat-related safety. This summer could shape up to be a scorcher. You need to provide information and take precautions to protect your workers. Learn more at http://www.OSHA.gov/heat.

Check out these articles for more tips on keeping workers safe in the heat:

How heat causes accidents at work

Heat stress: Monitoring workers in hot environments

Investigating heat stress incidents

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