Biggest risk factor for heat deaths in the workplace is the absence of acclimatization programs
Temperature will climb to mid-90’s this week
|Air Quality will be very poor on Wednesday – Action Day Declared|
|Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups|
|Health Message: Active children and adults, and people with lung disease, such as asthma, should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors.
Sensitive groups: Reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion. Take more breaks, do less intense activities. Watch for symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath. Schedule outdoor activities in the morning when ozone is lower.
People with asthma should follow their asthma action plans and keep quick relief medicine handy.
The most common problem identified in heat-related deaths and illness of workers is the lack of a heat prevention and acclimatization programs by their employer, according to federal safety investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
[pull_quote_left]“Heat-related illnesses can be fatal and are preventable when employers take a few simple steps to ensure workers safety and health.[/pull_quote_left]With temperatures expected to soar well into the 90s and the 100s for the next several days throughout the Midwest, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is reminding employers to protect workers that may be exposed to extreme heat while working outdoors or in hot indoor environments.
Each year, thousands of workers suffer the effects of heat exposure and, in some cases, die as a result. In 2014 alone, 2,630 workers suffered from heat illness and 18 died from heat stroke and related causes on the job.
“A review of heat related deaths revealed the majority of workers had just started the job, and frequently it was their first day on the job and the workers were not acclimated to the constant exposure to the heat and sun,” said Ken Atha, OSHA’s Regional Administrator in Chicago. “Heat-related illnesses can be fatal and are preventable when employers take a few simple steps to ensure workers safety and health. Those steps include acclimating workers to the hot environments, frequent water breaks, allowing ample time to rest, and providing shade. OSHA’s Heat Safety Tool App is available to employers, employees and the public for free download on iPhones and Android phones.”
[pull_quote_right] “A review of heat related deaths revealed the majority of workers had just started the job, and frequently it was their first day on the job and the workers were not acclimated to the constant exposure to the heat and sun.”[/pull_quote_right]Working in full sunlight can increase heat index values by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep this in mind and plan additional precautions for working in these conditions such as construction, road and agricultural workers.
A common mistake is assuming that the worker is not at risk for heat stroke if they are still sweating. You can still be sweating and have heat stroke. A common symptom of heat stroke is mental changes, such as confusion or irritability. Heat stroke is an emergency. If there is any suggestion of heat stroke, call 911 and institute the other safety measures as quickly as possible.
You can print these resources for your workplace and learn more about heat stress symptoms: OSHA’s Heat Stress Quick Card http://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3154.pdf
To prevent heat related illness and fatalities:
- Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty.
- Rest in the shade to cool down.
- Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
- Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.
- Keep an eye on fellow workers.
- “Easy does it” on your first days of work in the heat. You need to get used to it.
The risk of heat stress increases for workers 65 years of age or older, are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure, or take medications.
Those employed in hot indoor environments such as firefighters, bakers, factory and boiler room workers, are also at risk when temperatures rise.
OSHA has provided heat safety tips for workers in a blog, Twitter posts, and an updated heat campaign webpage that now includes illustrations of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, an animated video, training resources, and links to an updated heat safety phone app. #WaterRestShade is the official hashtag of the campaign, encouraging employers to provide their workers with drinking water, ample breaks, and a shaded area while working outdoors.
OSHA also continues to partner with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to raise awareness on the dangers of working in the heat through its Weather-Ready Nation campaign.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.