- On January 16, 2017
According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 3,100 American workers suffered from heat-related illness requiring at spent at least one day away from work for recovery in 2015. In the same year, 34 workers died from exposure to extreme temperatures. Considering the thousands of illnesses and numerous deaths each year, it’s clear that those exposed to working in hot weather are putting themselves & their company at risk.
Dr. David Michaels from OSHA gave a press conference recently that explained the wide-reaching effects of workers that are exposed to heat illness, stating that “Every year, dozens of workers die and thousands more become ill due to working in the heat,” Michaels said. “About one-third of heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry, but outdoor workers in every field — including those working in the construction industry, agriculture, landscaping, transportation, and oil, gas & water pipe-line operations — are susceptible to the dangers of heat.”
Dr. Michaels gave the example of the danger to workers when he mentioned a 41-year-old man from Illinois whose life was compromised last year after working a mere (4) hours re-roofing an apartment building. Temperatures reached 90 degrees outdoors but the impact it made on the worker caused this man to lose his life. The man’s employer did not have an adequate heat illness prevention program in place.
This type of crisis makes it imperative that employers provide heat safety training and heat relief protocol for employees who battle high temperatures everyday. Preparedness is the first step in preventing heat-related illness in the workforce. OSHA has created a FREE app called the Heat Safety Tool that is available for iPhones or Androids that lets the user know instantly if you’re they are in a high-risk zone due to heat and humidity. It also provides protective measures to take to stay safe when battling the heat and is something that all people that work in the heat should download.
The OSHA law states that employers must be protected from excessive heat. Under the law, employers are responsible for giving workplaces free of known safety hazards. This includes taking different measures to protect the workers from heat.
Some of the measures that can be taken in order to prevent the workers from heat are:
- Provision of shade, rest and water
- Giving workers a gradual increase in their workload rather than giving them to work on something right away. Building their tolerance to work in the heat. A lot of times, workers are just given something to work on and a lot of times this pressure is increased without keeping the surrounding issues and factors in mind. The OSHA law ensures that workers are not pressurized with work. They are in fact, given, enough to help them gradually overcome issues.
- Monitoring workers for any sign of illness is another key area where OSHA law works. The whole idea is to monitor the workers for any signs that they may exhibit of illness and then move ahead with the treatment of these. Moreover, the OSHA law wants to ensure that the workers are not deprived of any circumstances that may affect their work and therefore, it works to monitor the children for signs of illnesses and other health concerns so that prevention is taken before-hand.
- Plan for emergencies: Lastly, another key measure of the OSHA law is to plan for emergencies and then work to train the workers to prevent these emergencies. The whole idea is to help train the workers and then work on things that they can work on to improve their prevention measures. This includes planning right for the emergencies to be prepared well in advance and also train the workers to prevent them from any such concerns.
Heat exhaustion is one of the major concerns in the work-place and the OSHA Law works to ensure that workers are given the right type of security and prevention measures so that they work their best to prevent from getting affected from the heat.
Other important measures include:
- Drink water every 15 minutes- you have to do this even if you are not that thirsty
- Start resting in the shade and try to cool your body down
- Wear light-colored
- Keep a keen eye on the fellow workers and make sure that if they are taking any measures of prevention, so are you
- Wear a proper hat and get used to working in the heat
Taking these preventative measures in account will help to prevent yourself from the suffering of a heat related illness.