OSHA's Guidance for Staying Safe as Temperatures Rise
As summer approaches, OSHA is encouraging employers and employees to access the agency's resources for avoiding heat-related illnesses.
In a press release, the agency recounted an incident in which a group of cleanup and recovery workers in New Orleans helped save a co-worker's life by using an OSHA QuickCard to identify signs of heat stroke and then provide first aid until an ambulance arrived. Earlier that day, the small group of workers and their supervisor held a 15-minute safety meeting to discuss the recognition, treatment, and dangers of heat-related illnesses, the agency says.
The combination of heat and humidity can be a serious health threat during the summer months. The two most serious forms of heat related illnesses are heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which could be fatal. Signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke need immediate attention. If you work outside (for example, at a beach resort, on a farm, at a construction site) or in a kitchen, laundry, or bakery, you may be at increased risk for heat related illness. So, take precautions. Here’s how:
- Drink small amounts of water frequently
- Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing. Cotton is good
- Take frequent short breaks in cool shade
- Eat smaller meals before work activity
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol or large amounts of sugar
- Know the equipment such as respirators or work suits can increase heat stress
- Find out from your health care provider if your medications and heat don’t mix.