Through its Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is making available resources to employees who work outdoors, as well as their supervisors. This OSHA campaign aims to raise awareness and educate workers and their employers about the dangers of working in hot weather and provide resources and guidance to address these hazards.
Workers in outdoor industries — such as agriculture, construction, landscaping and transportation — are at particular risk. Thousands of employees become sick each year and many die from working in the heat. Labor-intensive activities in hot weather can raise body temperatures beyond the level that typically can be cooled by sweating. Heat illness initially may manifest as heat rash or heat cramps but quickly can escalate to heat exhaustion and then heat stroke if simple preventive measures are not followed, notes OSHA.
Meanwhile, heat illness disproportionately affects those who have not built up a tolerance to heat (acclimatization), and it especially is dangerous for new and temporary workers at facilities or other types of work sites.
OSHA is offering heat illness educational materials in English and Spanish, as well as a curriculum to be used for workplace training (also available in English and Spanish). Also available is a webpage that provides information and resources regarding heat illness for workers and employers — including how to prevent it and what to do in case of an emergency. That webpage is: www.osha.gov/heat/index.html.
There is also a free app for mobile devices that enables workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites. This app from OSHA displays a risk level for workers based on the heat index, as well as reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that risk level. The app is available for Android-based platforms and iPhones and can be downloaded in English and Spanish by clicking here.