Four weeks into the summer, the nation continues to experience record heat. For outdoor workers, this means being at risk for heat-related illnesses, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Employers must take the precautions needed to protect outdoor workers:
- Have a work site plan to prevent heat-related illnesses and make sure that medical services are available to respond to an emergency should one occur.
- Provide plenty of water at the job site and remind workers to drink small amounts of water frequently – every 15 minutes.
- Schedule rest breaks throughout the work shift and provide shaded or air conditioned rest areas near the work site.
- Let new workers get used to the extreme heat, gradually increasing the work load over a week.
- When possible, schedule heavy tasks for earlier in the day.
“Tell workers what to look for to spot the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke in themselves and their co-workers, and make sure they know what to do in an emergency. OSHA has fact sheets and posters that illustrate the signs of heat-related illnesses, and the steps that you can take to prevent them at your work site.
OSHA has posted educational materials about heat-related illnesses, including a curriculum for workplace training, available from the following link. Video and audio public service announcements can be downloaded here. All of these materials are available in English and Spanish.