Heat Stress Prevention Tips
As the summer temperatures rise, so do the dangers of working in high heat. This can be especially true in areas of the country where workers are used to milder weather for most of the year and are not accustomed to high temperatures. Heat stress prevention is possible when you take the correct actions.
OSHA encourages employers and workers in construction, agriculture, and other labor-intensive activities to learn the signs of heat stress and focus their efforts on prevention. You can download this free OSHA Quick Card for protecting workers from heat stress and distribute them on your job site so everyone is on the same page when it comes to heat stress.
Exposure to heat can lead to headaches, cramps, dizziness, fatigue, nausea or vomiting, and even seizures or death. Regularly providing water, rest, and shade; gradually adapting workers to hot environments; and training employees to recognize the signs of trouble are important precautions that can help to save lives.
Employers can download a sample heat illness prevention plan in order to be prepared for the high heat of the summer months.
Here are some tips for heat stress prevention:
- Perform the heaviest, most labor-intensive work during the coolest part of the day.
- Use the buddy system (work in pairs) to monitor the heat.
- Drink plenty of cool water (one small cup every 15 to 20 minutes).
- Wear light, loose-fitting, and breathable clothing (such as cotton).
- Take frequent short breaks in cool, shaded areas – allow your body to cool down.
- Avoid eating large meals before working in hot environments.
- Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages (these make the body lose water and increase the risk of heat illnesses).
To help those suffering from heat stress:
- Move them to a cool, shaded area. Do not leave them alone.
- Loosen and remove heavy clothing.
- Provide cool water to drink (a small cup every 15 minutes) if they are not feeling sick to their stomach.
- Try to cool them by fanning them. Cool the skin with a spray mist of cold water or a wet cloth.
- If they do not feel better in a few minutes, call 911 for emergency help.
Employers can calculate the heat index for their worksite with the federal OSHA heat stress app for mobile phones.