The nation is experiencing record high heat temperatures with the mercury approaching the century mark. This heat is of great concern because it has the potential of adversely affecting the health and safety of workers. Compliance Poster Company reminds employers that they must be proactive in protecting their employees from heat-related illnesses and be vigilant in complying with state and federal OSHA health and safety laws. Those workers in agriculture, construction, manufacturing, amusement and recreation parks, and outdoor eating establishments among others, face high heat and humidity working conditions that pose special hazards to the safety and health of employees. In addition to the ambient temperature, employers and workers need to be concerned with the heat index. The heat index is the number in degrees that tells us how hot it really feels with the heat and humidity, and full sunshine exposure can increase that number by approximately 15° F. In general, employers should assume that there is a significant risk of heat illness for employees working in the sun if the heat index for the day is 80 or above. If employees will be working in shade, a heat of index of 90 or above is the equivalent point of risk.
Employers must take steps to prevent heat illness and ensure worker safety:
- Develop and implement written procedures for complying with OSHA heat illness prevention laws and regulations.
- Train all employees and supervisors about heat illness prevention.
- Provide enough fresh water so that each employee can drink at least 1 quart per hour, and encourage them to do so.
- Provide access to shade and encourage employees to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least 5 minutes. Employees should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.
- Employees should be trained on what to look for to spot the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke in themselves and their co-workers.
OSHA has launched a nationwide outreach campaign to raise awareness among workers and employers about the hazards of outdoor work in hot weather. In its efforts the agency partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on weather service alerts. In the recent US Department of Labor press statement Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis addressed heat illness precautions and the continued heat waves sweeping the country. Solis emphasized, “Remember: water, rest, shade – the three keys to preventing heat-related illnesses in this extreme heat”.
Compliance Poster Company (CPC) has a complete line of heat-related products to help employers comply with the state and federal heat laws and regulations and enhance and reinforce training employers provide for their workers. These products include the following:
- CPC’s best selling poster, Federal Heat Stress Illness Poster is available in English and Spanish
- Federal Heat Illness for Athletes Poster is available in English and Spanish
- Federal Heat Illness Guide Tri-fold Pamphlet is available in English and Spanish
- Heat Stress Illness Prevention for Indoor Working Environments Poster
For more information on health and safety tips you can also visit the American Red Cross at http://www2.redcross.org/services/hss/tips/heat.html
The nation’s heat wave conditions make outdoor workers vulnerable to heat illness, but prevention is the key to safety in the workplace. Compliance Poster Company’s Compliance Advisors are eager to assist employers in creating safe and healthful workplaces.