OSHA Looks to Beat the Heat-Related Illnesses

OSHA is focusing on heat-related illnesses this week, launching a national initiative to educate workers on the hazards of working outdoors. According to its announcement, thousands of workers experience heat illness each year and over 30 workers were killed last year by heat stroke.

To assist employers and workers engaged in outdoor work, OSHA has published a Web page and other safety materials on the subject, like heat related safety posters. The page also has links to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather alerts and NOAA’s Heat Watch page.

According NOAA’s Heat Watch page, an average 1500 people in the U.S. die each year from excessive heat. The page also has interesting facts about the hazards of excessive heat and its affect on the human body.

OSHA tips on how to beat the heat include the following:

  • Drink water often
  • Schedule frequent rest periods
  • Rest in the shade
  • Wear hats and lightly colored clothing
  • Acclimate to hot environments by gradually increase exposure
    • OSHA recommends beginning with 50% of normal workload and working up to 100% over a five day period
  • Report heat symptoms early
  • Know what to do in an emergency

OSHA’s quick card on Protecting Workers from Heat Stress has the following tips on recognizing heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion include:

  • Headache, dizziness, or fainting
  • Weakness and wet skin
  • Irritability or confusion
  • Thirst, nausea, or vomiting

Symptoms of Heat Stroke include:

  • Confusion, inability to think clearly, passing out, collapsing, or seizures
  • May stop sweating

If you’re interested in online training around heat related issues, check our blog post on Working in Extreme Temperatures.