OSHA reminds us about heat hazards this time of year

From OSHA —

Heat-related illness can affect workers in many industries, at indoor or outdoor worksites. Some job-related risk factors include:

  • Outdoor work in warm weather,
  • Heat sources such as ovens, fires, or hot tar,
  • Strenuous physical activity, and
  • Heavy or non-breathable work clothes.

When these (or other) heat hazards are present, employers should plan ahead to protect workers.

Creation of a Heat Illness Prevention Plan

Employers should create a written plan to prevent heat-related illness. Use the tools on this web site to help. Important elements to consider when creating the heat plan are:

  • Who will provide oversight on a daily basis?
  • How will new workers gradually develop heat tolerance?
  • Temporary workers may be more susceptible to heat and require closer supervision.
  • Workers returning from extended leave (typically defined as more than two weeks) may also be at increased risk.
  • How will the employer ensure that first aid is adequate and the protocol for summoning medical assistance in situations beyond first-aid is effective?
  • What engineering controls and work practices will be used to reduce heat stress?
  • How will heat stress be measured?
  • How to respond when the National Weather Service issues a heat advisory or heat warning?
  • How will we determine if the total heat stress is hazardous?
  • What training will be provided to workers and supervisors?

Day-to-Day Supervision

Heat conditions can change rapidly and management commitment to adjusting heat stress controls is critical to prevent heat illness. An individual at the worksite should be responsible for monitoring conditions and implementing the employer’s heat plan throughout the workday. This individual can be a foreman, jobsite supervisor, plant manager, safety director, or anyone else with the proper training.  Proper training includes knowing how to:

  • identify and control heat hazards;
  • recognize early symptoms of heat stress;
  • administer first aid for heat-related illnesses; and
  • activate emergency medical services quickly when needed.

Ideally, the individual who is responsible for the heat plan should be on-site, where the workers are. On-site monitoring allows accurate determination of heat stress. In some industries with a widely distributed workforce, such as mail and package delivery, on-site monitoring might not be feasible. In those cases, the responsible individual at the site should be fully trained on the means and methods to contact and report to the employer any adverse heat related conditions that may develop on the site as well as any signs and symptoms of heat related illness experienced by any of the workers. The responsible individual in a central location should estimate heat stress using the best available methods for remote estimation.

This website provides basic heat training resources. Employers who want more detailed information can consult the Additional Resources.

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