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May 29, 2014
OSHA launches summer heat safety campaign: Tips to keep outdoor workers safe

Many areas of the country have already experienced temperatures of 90 degrees or more, and it’s not even June. OSHA reminds employers that exposure to heat can cause illness and death. Get the facts and safety tips here.

Water. Rest. Shade is the name of OSHA’s campaign to protect workers from the ravages of heat. The agency emphasizes that heat illnesses and deaths are preventable and urges employers to establish a heat illness prevention program. The steps involved include:

  • Providing workers with water, rest, and shade;
  • Gradually increasing workloads and allowing more frequent breaks for new workers or those who have been away for a week or more (acclimatization);
  • Modifying work schedules as necessary;
  • Planning for emergencies;
  • Training workers about the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and how to prevent them; and
  • Monitoring workers for signs of illness (headache, dizziness, thirst, nausea, weakness, wet skin, confusion, not sweating, collapse).

6 tips for staying safe in the heat

Any worker exposed to hot and humid conditions is at risk of heat illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky protective clothing and equipment. Some employees might be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions.

Industries most affected by heat-related illness include construction; trade, transportation and utilities; agriculture; building, grounds maintenance; landscaping; and oil and gas support services.

Make sure your employees know and do the following:

  • Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.
  • Drink water every 15 minutes even if you are not thirsty.
  • Rest in the shade to cool down.
  • Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
  • Keep an eye on fellow workers.
  • Take it easy on the first days of work in the heat in order to get used to it.
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