Do Your Workers Know How to Prevent Heat Illness?

August 13, 2014  |   Posted by :   |   Consulting,CT McCabe Consulting Blog,Safety,Uncategorized   |   Comments Off on Do Your Workers Know How to Prevent Heat Illness?»

As the dog days of August approach, hot conditions are a major concern in workplaces across many areas of the United States. The following are tips to combating this annual danger regardless of the state you work in.


In 2005, a dozen California workers died of heat illness—a toll that resulted in the promulgation of the nation’s first heat illness prevention regulation. In 2009, California/OSHA conducted more than 3,400 inspections at worksites considered “high risk” for heat illness. The agency shut down 16 worksites that posed an imminent heat hazard and issued nearly 1,200 citations with almost $2 million in associated fines to employers that failed to protect workers from the hazards of California’s blistering heat.The result was substantial improvement over 2005: In 2009, only one heat-related fatality, a construction worker, was confirmed.

Heat Stress training should cover what OSHa considers to be the essential components of any program, including:

Access to water. Workers exposed to potentially dangerous heat conditions must have adequate access to potable water. Employers must be sure to:

  • Make at least 1 quart of water available per worker, per hour, at no charge to workers.
  • Keep drinking water cool.
  • Encourage workers to drink frequently and in small amounts
  • Designate a worker to frequently check on and replenish water and replace cups as needed.

Access to shade. Shade provides respite from the sun’s radiant heat and must be available to workers who need it. If temperatures exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit and no shade is present at the worksite, OSHA considers it an imminent hazard situation and can shut the worksite down. Shade is considered adequate if:

  • It is as close as possible to the worksite.
  • Workers cast no shadow within the shaded area.
  • The shade creates no additional hazard. (For example, sitting in the shade of a piece of heavy mobile equipment is considered hazardous.)
  • The shaded area is cooler than surrounding outdoor areas. For some shaded areas, such as metal buildings or the interiors of vehicles, this may mean that the shaded area must be ventilated or air conditioned.
  • Workers do not have to sit on bare dirt in the shaded area.
  • The shaded area must be able to comfortably accommodate 25 percent of the workers on-site at any given time. Under some circumstances, nonagricultural employers are allowed to provide alternative cooling methods, such as misters, if these methods are at least as effective as shade at cooling workers.

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