While the hottest days of the summer may be behind us, we still have some warm days ahead. If you or your employees work in hot conditions, we have three important words to offer: Water. Rest. Shade.
Working in the heat can affect workers regardless of physical condition, leading to heat illnesses and in extreme cases, even death. And it’s not just out in the elements where heat exposure can have negative effects. Injuries can also occur indoors in overheated workspaces such as boiler rooms, warehouses, laundries and commercial kitchens.
Under OSHA law, employers are responsible for ensuring workplaces are free of known safety hazards, which includes protecting workers from extreme heat. An employer with workers exposed to high temperatures should establish a complete heat illness prevention program, including the following:
- Provide workers with water, rest, and shade.
- Allow new or returning workers to gradually increase workloads and take more frequent breaks as they acclimatize or build a tolerance for working in the heat.
- Plan for emergencies and train workers on prevention.
- Monitor workers for signs of illness.
OSHA launched a heat illness prevention campaign in 2011 to educate employers and workers on the dangers of working in the heat, and their safety message centers on those three important words: Water. Rest. Shade.
Click the button below for OSHA’s occupational heat exposure page for more resources and information explaining what employers can do to keep workers safe and what workers need to know—including factors for heat illness, adapting to working in indoor and outdoor heat, protecting workers, recognizing symptoms, and first aid training.
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