Learning & Development

Two New Tools from OSHA that Train Workers to Avoid Heat Illnesses

Extreme heat during the summer months poses a risk to outdoor workers, in particular, and creates a potential liability for their employers if steps are not taken to protect workers’ health and safety.

The risk is real. Two years ago, there were 31 heat-related worker deaths, as well as 4,120 heat-related worker illnesses, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Through its fourth annual “Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers,” OSHA seeks to raise awareness, teach employers and their employees about the dangers of working in hot weather, and provide resources and guidance to address those hazards.

The most effective and cost-efficient way to provide safety training for your workforce? Try a demo of BLR’s remarkable TrainingToday® at no cost or obligation.

“Heat-related illnesses can be fatal, and employers are responsible for keeping workers safe,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Employers can take a few easy steps to save lives, including scheduling frequent water breaks, providing shade, and allowing ample time to rest.”

Why does the heat pose such a problem? When workers perform labor-intensive activities in hot weather, their body temperatures can increase beyond the level that normally can be cooled by sweating, OSHA explains.

At first, workers experiencing heat illness might have heat rash or heat cramps, but their condition can quickly escalate to heat exhaustion and then heatstroke if simple preventive measures are not followed. The agency states that heat illness disproportionately affects those who have not built up a tolerance to heat, also known as “acclimatization.” As a result, new and temporary workers are at increased risk for heat-related illnesses.

“Acclimatization is a physical change that the body undergoes to build tolerance to heat, and it is a critical part of preventing heat illnesses and fatalities,” says OSHA Head Dr. David Michaels. “Over the past 3 years, lack of acclimatization was the cause in 74 percent of heat-related citations issued. Employers have a responsibility to provide workplaces that are safe from recognized hazards, including outdoor heat.”

Try a demo of BLR’s remarkable award-winning TrainingToday® at no cost or obligation. This includes the Workplace Safety Library. Get the details.

Trainers should be sure to train managers, supervisors, and affected workers about heat illness and ways to prevent it. To get started, visit www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html to access OSHA’s resources on the topic available in both English and Spanish.

OSHA’s free application for mobile devices enables workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index, displays a risk level based on the heat index, and provides reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that risk level. The app is available in English and Spanish at www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heat_index/heat_app.html.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *