OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
OSHA OFFERS TIPS TO PROTECT WORKERS IN HOT SUMMER WEATHER
Working in hot environments can be dangerous. In many industries, such as laundries, foundries, bakeries and construction projects, workers face conditions that make them especially vulnerable to safety and health hazards. Higher summer temperatures increase those risks.
The combination of heat, humidity and physical labor can lead to fatalities. In 1999, 34 workers died and 2,420 others experienced heat-related occupational injuries and illnesses serious enough to miss work.
Simple precautions, such as those listed on OSHA's Heat Stress Card, can prevent many heat-related deaths and injuries. Available in English and Spanish, this laminated fold-up card is free to employers to distribute to their workers. It offers a quick reference about heat-related injuries, including warning signs and prevention tips:
How to Protect Workers
* Encourage workers to drink plenty of water - about 1 cup of cool water every 15 to 20 minutes, even if they are not thirsty - and to avoid alcohol, coffee, tea, and caffeinated soft drinks that dehydrate the body.
* Help workers adjust to the heat by assigning a lighter workload and longer rest periods for the first 5 to 7 days of intense heat. This process needs to start all over again when a worker returns from vacation or absence from the job.
* Encourage workers to wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Workers should change their clothes if they get completely saturated.
* Use general ventilation and spot cooling at points of high heat production. Good airflow increases evaporation and cooling of the skin.
* Train first-aid workers to recognize and treat the signs of heat stress and be sure all workers know who has been trained to provide aid. Also train supervisors to detect early signs of heat-related illness and permit workers to interrupt their work if they become extremely uncomfortable.
* Consider a worker's physical condition when determining fitness to work in hot environments. Obesity, lack of conditioning, pregnancy, and inadequate rest can increase susceptibility to heat stress.
* Alternate work and rest periods, with rest periods in a cooler area. Shorter, more frequent work-rest cycles are best. Schedule heavy work for cooler times of the day and use appropriate protective clothing.
* Monitor temperatures, humidity, and workers' responses to heat at least hourly.
For a copy of OSHA's Heat Stress Card in English or Spanish, click on OSHA's website, www.osha.gov, then Newsroom, followed by Publications. Fill out the order form online, and fax your request to Publications at (202) 693-2498. You can also call (202) 698-1888 or write to: U.S. Department of Labor/OSHA, OSHA Publications, P.O. Box 37535 Washington, D.C. 20013-7535.
More information about heat and sun hazards can be found on OSHA's website, www.osha.gov and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) www.cdc.gov and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) www.cdc.gov/niosh
The text of this news release is on the World Wide Web at www.osha.gov. Information on this news release will be made available to sensory-impaired individuals upon request. Phone: (202) 693-1999.
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