Preventing Heat-Related Illness in Outdoor Workers

A recent National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) report offers advice to employers on the importance of preventing heat-related illness in workers.

The report is based on an evaluation of heat stress at a national park in California, but the agency said its recommendations can be applied to other work sites where extreme heat may be a factor.

NIOSH found that one out of nine employees had a core body temperature above the defined heat strain criteria. Several had sustained maximum heart rates consistent with heat strain.

NIOSH offers the following advice to employees:

  • Carry a radio
  • Follow the in-place heat stress policy provided by your employer
  • Learn the signs and symptoms of excessive heat strain
  • Self-monitor and document heat strain signs and symptoms
  • Tell your supervisor immediately if you or a co-worker has symptoms of heat-related illness
  • Drink plenty of fluids and take frequent breaks

It’s also important to know the difference between warm weather terms used by weather forecasters. The American Red Cross outlined the differences below:

Excessive Heat Watch – Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours.

Heat Advisory – Heat Index values are forecasting to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (daytime highs= 100-105° Fahrenheit).

Excessive Heat Warning – Heat Index values are forecasting to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least 2 days (daytime highs= 105-110° Fahrenheit).

Employers: we urge you to take all necessary precautions to keep your employees safe year-round.

If you or a loved one has been hurt on the job contact us today.