July 16, 2014CONTACT: Elena Bensor
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah OSHA is participating in the National Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Workers. HEAT ILLNESS CAN BE DEADLY. Every year thousands of workers get sick from heat-related illnesses and some even die. OSHA's nationwide Heat Illness Prevention Campaign aims to raise awareness and teach workers and employers about the dangers of working in hot weather, and provides valuable resources to address these concerns.
OSHA's nationwide Heat Illness Prevention Campaign has reached more than 10.7 million people and distributed close to half a million fact sheets, posters, quick cards, training guides and wallet cards. OSHA is again joining with other federal and state agencies and non-governmental organizations to spread the word about preventing heat illness.
What is heat illness?
The body normally cools itself by sweating. During hot weather, especially with high humidity, sweating isn't enough. Body temperature can rise to dangerous levels if precautions are not taken such as drinking water frequently and resting in the shade or air conditioning. Heat illnesses range from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention and can result in death.
How can heat illness be prevented?
Employers should establish a complete heat illness prevention program to prevent heat illness. This includes: provide workers with water, rest and shade; gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks for new workers or workers who have been away for a week or more to build a tolerance for working in the heat (acclimatization); modify work schedules as necessary; plan for emergencies and train workers about the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and their prevention; and monitor workers for signs of illness. 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.
OSHA has found that in recent years, the lack of acclimatization led to serous heat illness or death in 74% of OSHA citations. Employer assistance and resources to implement Heat illness prevention programs which can help prevent illness and death, are available through our website or by directly contacting our Utah OSHA Consultation Program.
Other resources which can be used to prevent heat illnesses include Heat Safety Tool Smartphone App and a link to an Interactive Map showing locations of outdoor workers heat-related fatalities between 2008 and 2013.
Visit the Utah Labor Commission webpage at: Labor Commission – National Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Workers to find free educational and training resources, in both English and Spanish.