As summer approaches, the rising temperatures are a welcome respite from the bitter cold of the winter months. But for workers exposed to excessively hot conditions on the job, high temperatures can be dangerous, even deadly.
Heat illness affects thousands of workers every year and can result in death for those who are unprepared to cope with the high temperatures. Heat-related illnesses include:
- Heat stroke
- Heat exhaustion
- Heat cramps
- Heat rash
Unsurprisingly, workers most at risk are those continually exposed to hot and humid conditions, especially those performing hard physical labor and/or wearing bulky clothing or equipment. Age, physical conditioning, and a chance to build up tolerance to the heat can all affect heat illness susceptibility as well.
Fortunately, simple preventative steps can greatly reduce the risk of developing a heat-related condition. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emphasizes the importance of adequate water, rest, and shade when working in extremely hot temperatures. Additionally, OSHA recommends that workers gradually build up to demanding work in hot conditions to allow themselves to become acclimated to the heat. With this common sense approach, occurrences of heat injuries on the job can be drastically reduced.