Any employer with workers exposed to high temperatures should establish a complete heat illness prevention program.
In 2011 OSHA launched a campaign that gets a lot of buzz every summer. The Heat Illness Prevention campaign aims to educate workers and their employers on the dangers of working in the heat. OSHA does as much as possible every year to get the message out through training sessions, outreach programs, publications, social and online media and they encourage everyone to spread the word. To make it as easy as possible, OSHA has condensed the message down into three key words. Water. Rest. Shade.
Under OSHA law, employers are responsible for providing workplaces free of known safety hazards. This includes protecting workers from extreme heat. An employer with workers exposed to high temperatures should establish a complete heat illness prevention program.
Any heat illness prevention program should include the following:
Every year, dozens of workers die and thousands more become ill while working in extreme heat or humid conditions. More than 40 percent of heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry, but workers in every field are susceptible. There are a range of heat illnesses and they can affect anyone, regardless of age or physical condition.
Some companies are getting creative with their heat illness prevention programs. Here are some awesome examples of how companies across the country and making sure their workers stay safe, but still get the job done, when temperatures soar in the summertime.
Workers need to be aware of their specific limitations and remember that sometimes their body may not cool off fast enough. Factors that can increase the chance of heat stress include:
To learn more about heat-related illnesses like heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke you can visit the Weeklysafety.com article Recognizing Heat Stress and visit the OSHA page on Occupational Heat Exposure. Both provide great information to help put together a toolbox talk on preventing heat-related illnesses.
All companies that have outdoor workers, or any employees that work in a warm or hot environment for any part of the work day, should be having safety meetings and giving toolbox talks on heat stress. Ideally the message should be reinforced throughout the summer, at least once a month, but more often if possible. Putting together the safety message, toolbox talk or safety meeting topic takes time and the free online resources that provide a safety topic outline to follow aren’t usually good enough. Weeklysafety.com can make this part of your job easier and it’s super simple to get started.
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