By Alan Achatz
It’s hot outside. What are you doing to protect your employees, temporary workers and/or outside contractors from the heat?
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has a heat illness safety campaign titled Water. Rest. Shade. designed to educate employers on the risks of working in the heat. Info on OSHA’s web page shares dozens of employees die each year due to heat exposure while thousands become ill due to heat or humidity. You should also know you can be cited and fined by OSHA if a worker is affected at your operation.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
If you have employees working in direct sunlight, high humidity or performing strenuous duties on a hot day, you need to protect the employees.
When a person works in a hot environment, the body must get rid of excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature. It does this mainly through circulating blood to the skin and through sweating.
When the air temperature is close to or warmer than normal body temperature, cooling of the body becomes more difficult. Blood circulated to the skin cannot lose its heat. Sweating then becomes the main way the body cools off. But sweating is effective only if the humidity level is low enough to allow evaporation, and if the fluids and salts that are lost are adequately replaced.
If the body cannot get rid of excess heat, it will store it. When this happens, the body’s core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. As the body continues to store heat, the person begins to lose concentration and has difficulty focusing on a task, may become irritable or sick, and often loses the desire to drink. The next stage is most often fainting and even death if the person is not cooled down.
Excessive exposure to heat can cause a range of heat-related illnesses, from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke can result in death and requires immediate medical attention.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
Educate your employees to the hazards.
Provide sunscreen; water or other beverages, encourage breaks
Recognize heat and humidity affect people differently.
Here’s a list of various charts, publications, Etools from OSHA and th e National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH):
- The temperature rises
- Humidity increases
- The sun gets stronger
- There is no air movement
- No controls are in place to reduce the impacts of equipment that radiates heat
- Protective clothing or gear is worn
- Work is strenuous
The heat index, which takes both temperature and humidity into account, is a useful tool for outdoor workers and employers (see Using the Heat Index: A Guide for Employers).
Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) is the most accurate tool to measure heat hazards for outdoor workers. It takes temperature, humidity, wind speed, and radiant heat into account. The OSHA Technical Manual Heat Stress Chapter provides WBGT information and calculations, and the National Weather Service provides a prototype WBGT location tool and work/rest recommendations.
Resources – OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool App
Resources – OSHA
Heat Illness Prevention Training Guide, A Lesson Plan for Employers
Use this training guide to lead interactive training with workers and supervisors. Can be used with the worksite poster as a training aid. 50 pages
(OSHA 3437 – 2011) (English: PDF)
(OSHA 3451 – 2011) (Spanish: PDF)
Heat Illness: Health Effects of Heat Worksite, Training Poster
If working outdoors, the risk for heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke, can cause serious medical problems or death. Display this poster at the worksite for workers to see, and use it as an educational training tool.
(OSHA 3431 – 2011) (English: PDFAdd to Cart)
Heat Illness: OSHA-NIOSH Heat Illness InfoSheet: Protecting Workers from Heat Illness
At times, workers may be required to work in hot environments for long periods. This fact sheet provides information to employers on measures they should take to prevent heat-related illnesses and death.
(OSHA 3438 – 2011) (English: PDF)
Heat Illness: Protecting Workers from the Effects of Heat Fact Sheet
This fact sheet provides information to employers on measures they should take to prevent worker illnesses and death caused by heat stress. 3 pages
(OSHA FS -3743 – 2014) (English: HTMLPDF)
Heat Illness: Protecting Yourself in the Sun
(OSHA 3166 – 2003) (English: PDF)
Heat Illness: Protecting Yourself in the Sun (Spanish)
Protecting Yourself in the Sun
(OSHA 3168 – 2000) (Spanish: PDF)
Heat Illness: Stopping for Water Keeps You Going, Community Poster
Created for workers exposed to high temperatures during the summer, this poster communicates a very simple message–water, rest and shade. Post in grocery stores, libraries, and on community bulletin boards. 1 page
(OSHA 3435 – 2011) (English: PDFAdd to Cart)
Heat Safety Illustrated, Low-Literacy Fact Sheet (Construction/Agriculture)
Every year, thousands of workers become sick from heat exposure on the job. Illustrated for low-literacy workers, this fact sheet communicates how heat illness can be prevented with three simple words–water, rest and shade. 2 pages
(OSHA 3422 – 2011) (English: PDFAdd to Cart)
Heat Stress QuickCard™
Exposure to heat can cause illness and death. Learn of precautions your employer should take any time temperatures are high and the job involves physical work. 2 pages
(OSHA 3154 – 2017) (English: PDFAdd to Cart)
(OSHA 3417 – 2017) (Spanish: PDFAdd to Cart)
(OSHA 3389 – 2011) (Vietnamese: PDF)
Alan E. Achatz, CCM, CHE, President of Club Safety Solutions is a former club manager who assists clubs with safety issues including emergency action planning / plan implementation, crisis management, OSHA compliance and behind the scenes safety audits. Alan has written extensively about safety concerns for clubs. He may be reached at 716-829-9148 or at www.clubsafetysolutions.com.