It is important for employers to protect their workers from heat-related illnesses and injuries when working in high heat environments. If your occupation involves working in high heat environments, it’s important to be aware of environmental conditions and take steps to prepare for steps outlined in the current OSHA National Emphasis Program on Outdoor and Indoor Heat Hazards.
Here are some steps you can take to get ready for the OSHA NEP and the threat of heat-related illness:
- Learn about the OSHA NEP. Read and understand the OSHA objective to develop a national heat standard, which outlines the requirements for employers to protect their workers from heat-related illnesses and injuries. You can find this information on the OSHA website at https://www.osha.gov/enforcement/directives/cpl-03-00-024 or check with your employer’s Human Resource or Safety Departments
- Become aware of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses: Learn the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can include fatigue, nausea, headache, dizziness, and confusion. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids. A proper regimen of water and electrolyte replenishment, before, during, and after working in high heat environments to help prevent and/or recover from dehydration. Avoid drinks that contain caffeine, alcohol, or excessive sugar.
- Wear appropriate clothing: Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that covers as much skin as possible. Choose fabrics that are breathable and can wick moisture away from the skin.
- Take breaks and rest in a cool area: Take frequent breaks and rest in a cool area to help regulate your body temperature. Use fans or air conditioning, if available.
- Follow your employer’s heat safety plan: Your employer should have a heat safety plan in place that includes measures such as providing water and rest breaks, monitoring workers for signs of heat-related illness, and adjusting work schedules to avoid working during the hottest parts of the day. Follow these measures and report concerns to your supervisor.
- If you do not currently have a written plan: Download OSHA’s Model Heat-Illness Prevention Plan http://bit.ly/heat_plan to help assist you in building out your company’s program.
By following these steps, and taking advantage of the tools identified and recommended here, you can help protect yourself and others from heat-related illnesses and injuries in accordance with OSHA recommended guidelines.