It’s getting really hot out there, with high temperatures in the upper 80’s and a chance of storms in this week’s forecast.
Here are three messages from OSHA’s National Office about hot work environments, courtesy of Leslie Ptak, a compliance assistance specialist for OSHA’s Madison office.
- OSHA Standards require an employer to provide potable water in the workplace and permit employees to drink it. Potable water includes tap water that is safe for drinking. Employers cannot require employees to pay for water that is provided. An employer does not have to provide bottled water if potable water is available.
- OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Campaign video (English) – OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Campaign video (Spanish)
- Heat Illness: OSHA-NIOSH Heat Illness InfoSheet: Protecting Workers from Heat Illness
OSHA has a comprehensive webpage for addressing heat in outdoor environments, and the materials are also available in Spanish.
In addition, here is a paper on heat stress in the workplace. The National Office of Occupational Medicine, who consult on every federal OSHA case where a heat stress incident is investigated, took information on 128 inspections conducted in eight of 10 OSHA regions (including Region V). They studied the who, what, where, why and how of what happened to the worker(s). Their analysis is eye opening, and that means it is valuable.
Some of the information in the report includes:
- Demographics and personal health characteristics of workers with heat related illnesses.
- Number and type of outpatient medications used by workers who suffered heat related illnesses.
- Clinical characteristics of occupational heat stroke cases.
- Job tenure.
- Employer characteristics: Industry, establishment size, and efforts to prevent heat related illness.
- Characteristics of work being performed at the time of heat related illness.
Even if you do not enjoy reading medical journal articles, the tables of information are clear and concise and provide excellent information for safety personnel who develop heat stress programs.
OSHA’s expectations for employers who have employees exposed to heat stress conditions are outlined at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatstress/index.html. For those of you who enjoy at totally digital approach to heat stress, NIOSH has developed a Heat Safety Tool Smartphone app, available at no cost for iPhone and Android phones. The GPS on the app determines your location, the temperature at your location, and then tells you the steps to take to prevent heat illness. Information about the app is available at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heat_index/heat_app.html.