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 provide valuable resources to address these concerns. Begun in 2011, the Heat Illness Prevention Campaign has reached more than 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. For example, OSHA is continuing its partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service to include worker safety precautions in their Excessive Heat Watch, Warning, and Advisory Products.
Available on this web page are numerous resources that can be used to prevent heat illnesses:
- The Educational Resources section links to information about heat illnesses and how to prevent them. Many of these resources target vulnerable workers with limited English proficiency and/or low literacy.
- The Using the Heat Index section provides guidance to employers to develop a heat illness prevention plan.
- The Training section includes a guide/lesson plan for employers and others to use in instructing workers on heat illness. There are links to additional resources in other languages.
- The Media Resources section includes news releases, public service announcements (PSAs), drop-in articles about heat illness prevention that you can customize to share and campaign artwork.
- The Fatality map shows locations of outdoor worker, heat-related fatalities between 2008 and 2012. It is not an exhaustive list of all worker fatalities from heat exposure. The map provides a geographic reminder that Water.Rest.Shade. are vital to providing a safe and healthful environment when working outdoors in the heat.
We hope you will join with us in this effort by helping to reach workers and employers in your community with the resources you will find on this site.
Who is affected?Any worker exposed to hot and humid conditions are at risk of heat illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky protective clothing and equipment. Some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions. Occupations most affected by heat-related illness are: construction, trade/transportation/utility, agriculture and building/grounds maintenance and cleaning. Other workers who may be affected by exposure to environmental heat include those in transportation/baggage handling, water transportation; landscaping services; greenhouse, nursery, and floriculture production; and support activities for oil and gas operations.
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. 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 are responsible for providing workplaces that are safe from excessive heat. Employers should provide workers with water, rest and shade; should 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); and should educate workers about the symptoms heat-related illnesses and their prevention. Employers should also include the steps to prevent heat illness in worksite training and plans as well as what to do in an emergency. Acting quickly can save lives!
OSHA's key pieces of advice for workers are:
- Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you're not thirsty.
- Rest in the shade to cool down.
- Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
- Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.
- Keep an eye on fellow workers.
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