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Protecting Workers from Heat Stress

The hot summer months cause problems for many workers, especially those who must work outdoors in the heat. Heat stress can cause heat illness and even death. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides employers with a “Heat Stress quick card” of information for helping prevent heat stress and recognizing symptoms. If your employees must work outside when it’s hot, consider printing the card for reference.

Tips for Preventing Heat Illnesses

As the temperature increases, try the following tips for preventing heat illnesses:

  • Allow employees frequent breaks to get water you provide and find shade. At a minimum, employees working in the hot sun should drink a pint of water per hour to remain hydrated and help regulate body temperature.
  • Insist employees wear light weight, light colored clothing. Provide sun shades for protecting eyes, and do what you can to minimize direct contact with sunlight whenever possible.
  • Educate all employees who must work in the heat to recognize signs of potential heat illnesses so they can help monitor each other. Heat stress and heat related illnesses are better treated when they are noticed right away.

If an Employee Becomes Sick from Heat

Sometimes workers will get sick from heat, even if proper precautions are taken. Here is what you need to do if someone is injured from the heat:

  • Call 911 or an ambulance immediately.
  • Move the worker who has become sick from the heat to a shaded area or into a cool room.
  • Remove an outer layer of clothing if possible.
  • Apply ice to the overheated employee, or mist with cool water to help bring body temperature down.
  • Give individual water to drink if they are conscious.