The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently kicked off a national outreach initiative to educate workers and their employers about the hazards of working outdoors in hot weather.
"For outdoor workers, 'water,
rest and shade' are three words that can make the difference between life and
death," Secretary of LaborHilda L. Solissaid. "If employers take reasonable precautions and look out for their
workers, we can beat the heat."
Every year, thousands of workers
across the country suffer from serious heat-related illnesses. If not quickly
addressed, heat exhaustion can become heat stroke, which has killed - on
average - more than 30 workers annually since 2003. Labor-intensive activities
in hot weather can raise body temperatures beyond the level that normally can
be cooled by sweating. Heat illness initially may manifest as heat rash or heat
cramps, but quickly can become heat exhaustion and then heat stroke if simple
prevention steps are not followed.
"It is essential for workers
and employers to take proactive steps to stay safe in extreme heat, and become
aware of symptoms of heat exhaustion before they get worse," said Dr.David
Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety
and health. "Agriculture workers; building, road and other construction
workers; utility workers; baggage handlers; roofers; landscapers; and others
who work outside are all at risk. Drinking plenty of water and taking frequent
breaks in cool, shaded areas are incredibly important in the hot summer
In preparation for the summer
season, OSHA has developed heat illness educational materials in English and
Spanish, as well as a curriculum to be used for workplace training.
a Web page provides information and resources on heat illness - including how
to prevent it and what to do in case of an emergency - for workers and
OSHA also has released a free
application for mobile devices that enables workers and supervisors to monitor
the heat index at their work sites. The app displays a risk level for workers
based on the heat index, as well as reminders about protective measures that
should be taken at that risk level. Available for Android-based platforms and
app can be downloaded in both English and Spanish.
In developing last year's
inaugural national campaign, federal OSHA worked closely with the California Occupational
Safety and Health Administration and adapted materials from that state's
successful campaign. Additionally, OSHA is partnering with the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration for the second year to incorporate worker safety
precautions when heat alerts are issued across the nation. NOAA also will
include pertinent worker safety information on itsheat
watch Web page.
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Prevent heat-related illnesses and fatalities among outdoor workers this summer
May 30, 2012