With more than 110 million Americans exposed to extreme temperatures this week - heat indexes are expected to be above 90 degrees in almost all 48 continental states - the Occupational Safety and Health Administration urges employers to protect workers who may be exposed to extreme heat while working outdoors or in hot indoor environments.
It can be a matter of life and death.
Just this past Friday, 23-year-old landscape employee working in direct sunlight near Poplar Bluff, Missouri, became overheated around 4 pm when the heat index was near 110 degrees. He had been chipping limbs, stacking brush and flagging traffic for hours that day. He was rushed to the hospital with a core body temperature of 108 degrees and died the following day from heat-related illness. July 22 was only his fourth day on the job.
What makes his death even more tragic is that it was entirely preventable. During this heat wave, OSHA urges employers to plan additional precautions to reduce the risks.
of heat exposure. These steps include acclimating workers to the hot environments, providing frequent water breaks, allowing ample time to rest, and providing shade .
Some people assume that a worker is not at risk for heat stroke if they are still sweating. This is not true. You can be sweating and still have heat stroke. A common symptom of heat stroke is mental changes, such as confusion or irritability. Heat stroke is an emergency. Employees should know to call 911 and alert the supervisor as soon as possible if there is any suggestion of heat stroke.
To learn more about the symptoms of heat stress see OSHA's Heat Stress Quick Card. The risk of heat stress increases for workers 65 and older, for those who are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure or take medications.
Also remember that working in full sunlight, as the Missouri landscaper was doing , can increase heat index values by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. So that means if the temperature is 95 degrees, it will feel like 110 in direct sunlight. Employers and workers can track the heat index at their work site using OSHA's free Heat Safety Tool app, available for iPhone and Android devices.
And do not forget those employed in hot indoor environments, such as bakeries, warehouses and boiler rooms. They are also at risk when temperatures rise.
Each year, thousands of workers suffer the effects of heat exposure. Some even die from it. Rhonda Burke is a Department of Labor public affairs specialist in Chicago.
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. Find more safety tips and resources on OSHA's heat page
It may be a matter of life or death.
Just last Friday, a 23-year-old garden worker working in bright sunlight near Poplar Bluff in Missouri overheated that at 4 o'clock in the afternoon when the heat index was approaching 110 degrees. He had been for many hours that day cutting branches, piling bushes and driving traffic. He was taken to the hospital with a body temperature of 108 degrees and died the next day for heat-related illness.
The fact that his death could have been completely prevented makes it even possible more tragic. Heat-related deaths can be avoided if employers use common sense precautions, and if their employees understand the danger signs.
During this heat wave, OSHA urges employers to plan precautionary programs to reduce the risks of heat exposure. The steps include implementing acclimatization processes in hot work environments, giving frequent water breaks, allowing long rest periods, and providing shaded spaces.
One of the most common problems identified in deaths and illnesses of workers related to heat is the lack of an employers' program for the prevention of heat hazards and acclimatization. Steps to prevent heat illness include:Drinking water every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty Rest in the shade to cool down. Recognize signs of heat illness and know what to do in emergencies. Stay alert to co-workers < / li>
To learn more about sunstroke symptoms, refer to the OSHA Quick Heat Insulation Manual. The risk of heat stress increases for workers 65 and older, those who are overweight, and those who have heart disease, have high blood pressure or take medications.
Always remember that working in full light of the sun, such as the gardener's in Missouri, can increase heat rates by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that if the temperature is 95 degrees, you will feel under direct sunlight as if you made 110. Employers and workers can track the heat index at their workplace using the free OSHA Safety Application Heat, which is available for iPhone and Android devices.
And do not forget those working in warm indoor environments such as bakeries, warehouses and boiler rooms. They are also at risk when temperatures rise.
Thousands of workers suffer the effects of heat exposure each year. Some die even because of it. Let's overcome the threat of heat with extra water, rest and shade, and make sure every worker returns home safely.
Rhonda Burke is a public information specialist with the US Department of Labor. UU. In Chicago. Find more useful information on the OSHA heat pageMore news: The lame naturalist
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