Make Plans to Beat the Heat this Summer

OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Campaign encourages heat-related safety measures

July 5, 2022

It’s hot out there, and summer has only recently officially begun.

With warmer temperatures comes an obvious increased risk for heat stress for outdoor workers in fields like construction, agriculture, and landscaping.

But it is important to remember the risk is not limited to high heat or to outside jobs. Many other factors come into play. Things like humidity, artificial heat sources, air flow, work clothing, personal protective equipment, and individual susceptibility can all intensify the effect of the temperature.

When that happens, you can experience heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and even heat stroke at temperatures lower than you might expect.

Thousands of workers suffer heat-related illnesses each year, and the US. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 344 heat-related deaths among workers from 2011-2019, noting that such deaths may even be underreported.

That is why OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention Campaign provides such valuable resources.

The campaign encourages each workplace to have a plan in place for preventing and responding to heat-related illnesses and to designate a specific person to oversee that plan.

Recommended measures for prevention include …

  • Planning outdoor work activities based on the heat index, using a wet globe bulb temperature (WGBT) instrument and the OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool app.
  • Allowing workers to adjust gradually, or acclimatize, to the heat by increasing their workload incrementally, starting at 20 percent of normal duration and increasing by 20 percent or less each day.
  • Providing ample opportunity for water intake (one cup every 20 minutes), rest, and shade.
  • Modifying schedules by moving more physically demanding work to cooler times of the day and rotating shifts.
  • Training and monitoring for heat stress signs and symptoms such as headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, or confusion.

Recommended response measures include …

  • Calling 911 immediately if you notice someone showing signs of abnormal thinking or behavior, slurred speech, seizures, or loss of consciousness.
  • Using water or ice to cool the person suffering heat stress.
  • Staying with that person until help arrives.

For more recommendations, resources, and training guides for workers and employers, visit OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention page.

By following a plan and by looking out for one another, we can all play a part in beating the heat this summer.

BCSP collaborates with OSHA to keep workplaces safe as part of the BCSP-OSHA Alliance.