OSHA’s annual Heat Illness Prevention campaign alerts employers and workers on the dangers of working in the heat. Our safety message comes down to three key words: Water. Rest. Shade.
Hazardous heat exposure can occur indoors or outdoors during any season if the conditions are right. Most outdoor fatalities occur in the first few days of working in warm or hot environments because the body needs to build a tolerance to the heat gradually over time, a process called heat acclimatization. Other risk factors for heat illness include heavy physical activity, warm or hot environmental conditions and wearing clothing that holds in body heat.
The following is a list of some industries where workers have suffered heat-related illnesses.
||Bakeries, kitchens, and laundries (sources with indoor heat-generating appliances)
|Construction – especially, road, roofing, and other outdoor work
||Electrical utilities (particularly boiler rooms)
|Construction – roofing work
||Iron and steel mills and foundries
|Mail and package delivery
||Manufacturing with hot local heat sources, like furnaces (e.g., paper products or concrete)
|Oil and gas well operations
OSHA requires employers to protect workers from extreme heat. An employer with workers exposed to high temperatures should establish a complete heat illness prevention program, which could include:
- 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.