With summer in full force, OSHA is reminding employers to protect employees from the dangers of the heat, whether they’re working inside or outside.
OSHA notes that every year, thousands of workers fall ill on the job from heat exposure, and that some cases are fatal.
From 50% to 70% of outdoor fatalities occur within the first few days of working in a warm or hot environment, OSHA said, because the body needs to build a tolerance to heat gradually over time.
This process is called heat acclimatization and failing to do it can result in a major risk factor for fatal outcomes, OSHA said.
Among the outdoor industries where OSHA says workers have been overcome by heat are agriculture, construction, landscaping, mail and package delivery, and oil and gas well operations.
Among the indoor workplaces to watch are bakeries, kitchens, and laundries, boiler rooms, fire service, mills and foundries, manufacturing with heat sources, and warehousing.
Three states—Washington, Minnesota, and California—have specific laws governing occupational heat exposure.
OSHA’s General Duty Clause requires employers to provide a workplace “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.”
OSHA provides information on planning and supervision for working in the heat.
The agency also provides tips on preventing heat-related illness, including drinking adequate fluids, working shorter shifts, taking frequent breaks, and quickly identifying any heat illness symptoms.
It also advises employers to train supervisors and workers to recognize heat hazards and heat-related illness.
For more information, contact CBIA’s Phillip Montgomery (860.244.1982).