OSHA educating about hazards working in heat

By |  May 23, 2012

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has kicked off a national initiative to educate workers and their employers about the hazards of working outdoors in hot weather. The outreach effort builds on last year’s summer campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of too much sun and heat.

“For outdoor workers, water, rest and shade can make the difference between life and death,” says Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor. “If employers take reasonable precautions and look out for their workers, we can beat the heat.”

According to OSHA, thousands of workers across the United States suffer from serious heat-related illnesses each year. If not quickly addressed, heat exhaustion can become heat stroke, which has killed, on average, more than 30 workers annually since 2003.

Labor-intensive activities in hot weather can raise body temperatures beyond the level that normally can be cooled by sweating. Heat illness initially may manifest as heat rash or heat cramps, but it can quickly become heat exhaustion and then heat stroke if simple prevention steps are not followed.

In preparation for summer, OSHA has developed heat illness educational materials in English and Spanish, as well as a curriculum to be used for workplace training. Additionally, a webpage provides information and resources on heat illness for workers and employers.

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