With temperatures expected to remain steady in the 90s for the next several days throughout the Midwest, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is reminding employers to protect workers that may be exposed to extreme heat while working outdoors or hot indoor environments.
Each year, thousands of workers suffer the effects of heat exposure and, in some cases, die as a result. In Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska alone, there were 13 heat-related hospitalizations and seven deaths associated with heat exposure between Oct. 1, 2014 and April 28, 2017.
“Employers can take a few easy steps to prevent heat illness including scheduling frequent water breaks, allowing ample time to rest, and providing shade,” said Kimberly Stille, OSHA’s Regional Administrator in Kansas City.
A majority of recent heat-related deaths often involve workers on the job for three days or less – highlighting the need for employers to ensure that new workers become acclimated to the heat when starting or returning to work.
To prevent heat related illness and fatalities:
§ 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.
§ Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.
§ Keep an eye on fellow workers.
§ "Easy does it" on your first days of work in the heat. You need to get used to it.
The risk of heat stress increases for workers 65 years of age or older, are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure, or take medications.
Working in full sunlight can increase heat index values by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep this in mind and plan additional precautions for working in these conditions. Those employed in hot indoor environments such as firefighters, bakers, factory and boiler room workers, are also at risk when temperatures rise.
OSHA has provided heat safety tips for workers in a blog, Twitter posts, and an updated heat campaign webpage that now includes illustrations of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, an animated video, training resources, and links to an updated heat safety phone app. #WaterRestShade is the official hashtag of the campaign, encouraging employers to provide their workers with drinking water, ample breaks, and a shaded area while working outdoors.
OSHA also continues to partner with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to raise awareness on the dangers of working in the heat through its Weather-Ready Nation campaign.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.