Millions of workers in the United States are exposed to workplace heat and thousands get sick from it each year. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that in some cases, heat illness can be fatal, with 50-to-70 percent of cases occurring within the first few days of working in warm or hot conditions.
In addition, other risk factors include heavy physical activity, lack of time to acclimate to the conditions, and wearing clothes that hold body heat.
But, heat illness is also avoidable. Here are five heat illness prevention steps you can take to protect your employees and still get the job done when temperatures heat up.
Step 1 – Provide plenty of water
For proper hydration, plan for one quart of water per hour for each employee. For a ten-person crew working an eight-hour shift, that’s 20 gallons of water. If you can’t provide the water all at once, make sure you have effective procedures to replenish it throughout the day and encourage your employees to drink it. The water must be fresh, pure, suitably cool, and provided to employees free of charge. It also must be located as close as possible to where employees are working.
Step 2 – A shady respite
Shade should be available to employees upon request and anytime outdoor temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Like water, shade must be as close as possible to where your employees are working and there must be enough shade to comfortably accommodate anyone that may be taking a break or rest period.
If nearby buildings or trees can provide sufficient shade for your workers, encourage them to take advantage of that. If not, pop-up canopies
Employees are entitled to a cool-down rest period of at least five minutes if they feel in danger of overheating. The employee shall be monitored and not ordered back to work until signs and symptoms have abated.