June 26, 2012 - Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year, according to NOAA’s National Weather Service. In fact, on average, excessive heat claims more lives each year than floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined.
For outdoor workers, warm weather can pose special hazards. Do you know the potential risks and how to manage them?
Protect Your Employees
To protect yourself and your employees from heat stress, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends these safety precautions:
- Drink small amounts of water frequently. (At least one pint of water per hour is recommended.)
- Wear light-colored, loose fitting and breathable clothing.
- Take frequent short breaks in cool shade.
- Eat smaller meals before work activity.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol or large amounts of sugar.
- Work in the shade, when possible.
- Find out from your health care provider if your medications and heat don’t mix.
Be aware of equipment such as respirators or work suits that can increase heat stress.
There are three kinds of major heat-related disorders – heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. To know how to recognize each one and what first aid treatment is necessary, refer to OSHA's Heat Stress Quick Card.