29 May 2014
OSHA’s Water. Rest. Shade. campaign
Water, rest and shade are the 3 major tips that employers can establish to help prevent heat illness for outdoor workers. Heat illness is caused when body temperature rises to dangerous levels because of the hot weather, high humidity, and sweat. If appropriate precautions are not taken; symptoms can range from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Why is it important to prevent heat illness?
Heat illnesses and deaths are preventable and OSHA urges employers to establish the heat illness prevention program. While heat strokes don’t kill immediately, it can shut down major parts of the body. Workers who are suffering from heat exhaustion are at a greater risk for accidents because they are less alert and sometimes can become confused.
Workers new to the heat or those that have been away from work and are returning can be most vulnerable to heat stress and they must be acclimatized. With this being said; employers should gradually increase workloads while allowing more frequent breaks until the tolerance of working in the heat is built up.
Six steps to help prevent
- Stay hydrated by drinking water every 15 minutes, even if your not thirsty.
- Cool down by taking frequent breaks in shady areas.
- Wear a hat and light-colored clothing
- Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency
- Keep an eye on your fellow workers
- “Easy does it” on your first days of work in the heat until you get used to it
If you are unsure what temperature ranges are at risks use the heat index table below to let you know when you need to take protective measures on heat-related illnesses.
OSHA provides you with heat training information for your workers. Please take advantage of this training. Providing your workers with these short training sessions can be the first step to help prevent heat related accidents this summer. You can check out the OSHA heat training guide