Weekly Safety Meeting – Protecting Workers from Heat

At times, workers may be required to work in hot environments for long periods. When the human body is unable to maintain a normal temperature, heat illnesses can occur and may even result in death. It is also important to consider that hot work environments may exist indoors.

Workers exposed to extreme heat may experience symptoms of heat-related illnesses, such as heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion, fainting, heat stroke, and other symptoms.

Heat-related illness is also linked to injuries from falls, equipment operation accident, and other on- the-job incidents. Such incidents can happen when someone with heat stress becomes fatigued, dizzy, confused, or disoriented.

Heat Illness Prevention Program Elements:

  • A person designated to oversee the Heat Illness Prevention Program;
  • Hazard identification;
  • Water, rest, shade;
  • Acclimatization;
  • Modified work schedules;
  • Training;
  • Monitoring for signs and symptoms; and
  • Emergency planning and response.

Hazard Identification:

Hazard identification involves recognizing heat hazards and the risk of heat illness due to high temperature, humidity, sun, and other thermal exposures, work demands, clothing or PPE, and personal risk factors.

Water, Rest, Shade

  • Ensure that cool drinking water is available and easily accessible;
    • Note: Certain beverages, containing caffeine and alcohol, can lead to dehydration.
  • Encourage workers to drink a liter of water over one hour, which is about one cup every fifteen minutes; and
  • Provide or ensure that fully shaded or air-conditioned areas are available for resting and cooling down.

Modified Work Schedules:

  • Reschedule all non-essential outdoor work for days with a reduced heat index;
  • Schedule more physically demanding work during the cooler times of day;
  • Schedule less physically demanding work during warmer times of the day;
  • Rotate workers and split shifts, and/or add extra workers;
  • Use work/rest cycles, according to established industry guidelines;
  • Stop work if essential control methods are inadequate or unavailable when the risk of heat illness is very high; and
    • Keep in mind that very early starting times may result in increased fatigue.
      • Also, early morning hours tend to have higher humidity levels.

Monitoring for Heat Illness Symptoms:

Establish a system to monitor and report the signs and symptoms listed on the previous page to improve early detection and action. Using a buddy system will assist supervisors when watching for signs of heat illness.

Emergency Planning and Response:

  • Know what to do when someone is showing signs of heat illness; o This can make the difference between life and death.
  • Know how to contact emergency help;
  • Know how long it will take for emergency help to arrive and train workers on appropriate first-aid measures until help arrives; and
  • Consider seeking advice from a healthcare professional in preparing a plan.

Awareness of heat illness protection can save your life or the life of a co-worker. Personal factors that may contribute to heat illness, or make you more susceptible include age, weight, level of fitness, medical condition, use of medications, and alcohol.

Download flyer: SMOTW_928_ProtectingWorkersHeat

Download Spanish flyer: SMOTW_928_ProtectingWorkersHeat_esp

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