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OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor

Process: Shipfitting

 

Heat Stress: Problems and Solutions

Problems

Direct Sunlight

Exposure to direct sunlight can create a heat build-up on the ship's steel structure.

diagram of a shipworker bent over working under a structure for protection against the sun

Solutions

Direct Sunlight

Changing workshift schedules so employees do not work during the hottest part of the day can reduce the risk of heat stress. Providing sun-blocking structures can minimize the effects of direct sunlight while still allowing air to flow freely through the work area. Lightweight, portable structures are available that can be moved when work locations change.

diagram of a shipworker bent over working under a structure for protection against the sun

Problems

Heat Build-up

Work spaces inside the ship's structure, such as tanks, can heat up significantly during the day. Various factors contribute to the heat build-up, including the sun heating up metal structures, heat generated by tools and equipment, and limited mechanical ventilation. Working in hot conditions can result in dehydration and other heat-related problems.

diagram of a shipworker bent over working on steel structure in sun and another man working inside the ship's structure

Solutions

Heat Build-up

Where possible, preassembling components in facilities that are adequately ventilated and cooled reduces the amount of time employees must work in hot environments. Where this is not possible, increasing ventilation or providing fans to promote air flow can reduce the heat related risks. Alternating tasks and rotating employees to limit the amount of time any employee must work in a hot environment may be warranted. Rotation times can be coordinated with established breaks to minimize disruption of work flow. Providing adequate rest breaks where employees can escape from hot environments and re-hydrate can reduce heat-related risks. Adequate breaks are particularly important where employees perform heavy manual work in hot environments.

diagram of a shipworker bent over working on steel structure in sun and another man working inside the ship's structure

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