OSHA, NOAA launch outreach campaign to prevent heat-related illnesses
OSHA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration encourage businesses to keep employees safe in extreme heat.
Drinking water often, taking breaks, and limiting time in the heat are the main recommendations to prevent heat illness. The two agencies have a variety of materials available in English and Spanish.
Officials say thousands of workers suffer needlessly from heat illnesses each year. Additionally, more than 30 workers died from effects of the heat last year.
During hot, humid weather, body temperature can rise to dangerous levels if precautions are not taken, according to OSHA. Heat illnesses range from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Workers exposed to hot and humid conditions are especially at risk of heat illness, particularly if they do heavy work tasks or use bulky protective clothing and equipment. The agencies suggest employees be made aware of the symptoms of heat illness and what to do.
Heat illness often manifests as heat exhaustion. Symptoms include headache, weakness and wet skin, irritability or confusion, and thirst, nausea, or vomiting.
To prevent heat exhaustion from becoming heat stroke, which can be fatal, employers and coworkers should have someone stay with the worker until help arrives, move the worker to a cooler area, remove outer clothing, and fan and mist the worker with water.
Heat stroke is denoted by confusion or the inability to think clearly. Also, the person may stop sweating.
If someone is not alert or seems confused, OSHA suggests calling 911 immediately and applying ice.
To prevent heat illnesses, OSHA recommends employers take the following precautions:
- Provide training about the hazards leading to heat stress and how to prevent them.
- Provide a lot of cool water to workers close to the work area. At least one pint of water per hour is needed.
- Schedule frequent rest periods with water breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas.
- Routinely check workers who are at risk of heat stress due to protective clothing and high temperature.
- Consider protective clothing that provides cooling.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
May 26, 2011
Copyright 2011© LRP Publications