Summertime is here.
For many this means fun in the sun, but if you work outdoors, the hot summer sun can lead to serious heat illness if you’re not careful.
Heat-related illnesses occur when the body is not able to lose enough heat to balance the heat generated by physical work and external heat sources. Weather conditions are the primary external heat sources for outdoor workers.
Anyone working outdoors is at risk. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to provide safe working conditions, even when it’s in the sun. OSHA offers tools to help educate all levels from senior management to supervisors to workers to help prevent heat illness.
While working in the heat, safety comes first.
How Hot is Too Hot?
OSHA defines heat index as “a single value that takes both temperature and humidity into account. The higher the heat index, the hotter the weather feels, since sweat does not readily evaporate and cool the skin.” (Source: OSHA)
According to OSHA, when the heat index is:
• Less than 91 degrees F, the risk level is lower and basic heat safety and planning measures should be taken
• 91 degrees F to 103 degrees F, the risk level is moderate and you should implement precautions, heightening awareness
• 103 degrees F to 115 degrees F, the risk level is high and additional precautions should be taken to protect workers
• Greater than 115 degrees F, the risk level is very high to extreme, which triggers even more aggressive protective measures
OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool.
Take precautions against outdoor heat while at work with the OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool. Featuring real-time heat index and hourly forecasts, specific to your location, as well as occupational safety and health recommendations from OSHA and NIOSH. The OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool is a useful resource for planning outdoor work activities based on how hot it feels throughout the day.
- Drink enough fluids.
- Schedule rest breaks.
- Plan for emergencies.
- Build up the workload of new workers gradually.
- Know the signs of heat illness.
Download the application and share with those in your company.
As OSHA Says ...
Stay informed and stay safe in the heat, check your risk level … and remember: Water. Rest. Shade.
Prevent Heat Illness
PDF and Website resources to help you prevent heat illness on your outdoor worksites.
- Using the Heat Index: a Guide for Employers
- Planning Checklists
- OSHA Quick Card: Protecting Workers from Heat Stress
- Protecting Workers from the Effects of Heat
This blog, originally posted June 18, 2013, has been updated with additional sources and information.