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June 24, 2011

June Safety Tip: Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workeers

Summer heat is here, creating conditions that can lead to heat-related illness. OSHA has created a new web page to help educate people about this potentially fatal situation. Here are some tips from OSHA on protecting workers from the effects of heat:
  • Train workers and supervisors about the hazards leading to heat stress and ways to prevent them.First Aid signs
  • Allow workers to get used to hot environments by gradually increasing exposure over a 5-day work period. New workers and those returning from an absence of two weeks or more should have a 5-day adjustment period.
  • Provide workers with plenty of cool water in convenient, visible locations close to the work area. Water temperature should be 50-60 degrees F if possible.
  • Remind workers to frequently drink small amounts of water before becoming thirsty to maintain good hydration. Simply telling them to drink plenty of fluids is not sufficient. During moderate activity, in moderately hot conditions, at least one pint of water per hour is needed. Workers should drink about 6 ounces or a medium-sized glass-full every 15 minutes. Instruct workers that urine should be clear or lightly colored.
  • Drinking Water signBe aware that it is harmful to drink extreme amounts of water. Workers should generally not drink more than a total of 12 quarts of fluid in 24 hours.
  • Reduce the physical demands of the job, such as excessive lifting, climbing or digging with heavy objects. Use mechanical devices or assign extra workers.
  • Monitor weather reports daily and reschedule jobs with high heat exposure to cooler times of the day.
  • Schedule frequent rest periods with water breaks in shaded or air-conditioned recovery areas.
  • Some personal protective equipment can increase heat risk, especially clothing such as Tyvek or rubber. These types of materials trap heat close to a worker's body.
  • Establish a routine to periodically check workers for signs and symptoms of overexposure
  • Use these links for additional information on heat stress:

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