OSHA | Prevent Heat Illness at Work

May 8, 2023
Prevent heat illness at work safety training image

In many areas of the country, the weather is heating up, meaning that workers in various industries need to be mindful of heat illnesses at work. Every year, dozens of workers die and thousands more become ill while working in hot or humid conditions. The OSHA Heat Illness Prevention campaign educates employers and workers on the dangers of working in the heat.

Nearly 3 out of 4 fatalities from heat illness happen during the first week of working in the heat. Workers need to ease into working in warm or hot environments. New and returning workers need to build a tolerance — or acclimatize — to working in the heat. It’s important to note that heat illnesses can happen to workers who work both indoors and outdoors.

It is also encouraged that workers follow the 20% Rule. On the first day, work no more than 20% of the shift’s duration at full intensity in the heat. Increase the duration of time at full intensity by no more than 20% a day until workers are used to working in the heat.

Tips for protecting yourself and others while working in the heat include:

  • Drink cool water — even if you’re not thirsty, drink at least one cup every 20 minutes
  • Take rest breaks — take enough time to recover from heat given the temperature, humidity, and conditions
  • Find shade or a cool area — take breaks in a designated shady location or cool area
  • Dress for the heat — wear a hat and light-colored, loose-fitting, and breathable clothing if possible
  • Watch out for each other — monitor yourself and others for signs of heat illness
  • If wearing a face covering — change your face covering if it gets wet or soiled. Verbally check on others frequently

The following are signs of heat illness and a medical emergency:

  • Abnormal thinking or behavior
  • Slurred speech
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

If any of the above signs are noticed, call 911 immediately. Once 911 has been called, cool the worker right away with water or ice and stay with the worker until help arrives.

In 2011, OSHA launched its Heat Illness Prevention campaign which educates employers and workers on the dangers of working in the heat. View OSHA’s full Prevent Heat Illness at Work poster here: https://www.osha.gov/.../publica.../3431_wksiteposter_en.pdf

Credit to: OSHA

Learn more about HazTek Safety & OSHA Training.