OSHA has kicked off a national outreach initiative to educate workers and their employers about the hazards of working outdoors in hot weather. Every year, thousands of workers across the country suffer from serious heat-related illnesses. If not quickly addressed, heat exhaustion can become heat stroke, which has killed - on average - more than 30 workers annually since 2003.
"It is essential for
workers and employers to take proactive steps to stay safe in extreme
heat, and become aware of symptoms of heat exhaustion before they get
worse," said OSHA head Dr. David Michaels. "Agriculture workers;
building, road and other construction workers; utility workers; baggage
handlers; roofers; landscapers and others who work outside are all at
risk. Drinking plenty of water and taking frequent breaks in cool,
shaded areas are incredibly important in the hot summer months."
Labor-intensive activities in hot weather can raise
body temperatures beyond the level that normally can be cooled by
sweating. Heat illness initially may manifest as heat rash or heat
cramps, but quickly can become heat exhaustion and then heat stroke if
simple prevention steps are not followed.
OSHA has developed heat illness educational materials in English and Spanish, a workplace training curriculum and a web page with information and resources on heat illness. OSHA also has released a free mobile phone app that lets workers and supervisors monitor the heat index at their work sites.
The app displays a risk level for workers based on the heat index, as
well as reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that
risk level. Available for Android-based platforms and the iPhone, the
app can be downloaded in both English and Spanish.