Heat illness can be deadly. Every year, thousands of workers become sick from exposure to heat, and some even die. These illnesses and deaths are preventable. OSHA
does not have a specific standard that covers working in hot environments. Under the OSH Act, however, employers have a duty to protect workers from recognized serious hazards in the workplace, including heat-related hazards. For outdoor workers, 'water, rest and shade' are three words that can make the difference between life and death," Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said. "If employers take reasonable precautions, and look out for their workers, we can beat the heat."
Begun in 2011, OSHA’s annual Heat Illness Prevention Campaign is once again in full swing. The campaign has reached more than 7 million people and distributed close to half a million fact sheets, posters, quick cards, training guides and wallet cards on preventing heat illness. OSHA has developed heat illness educational materials in English and Spanish, as well as a curriculum to be used for workplace training. Additionally, OSHA’s webpage on heat illness provides information and resources on heat illness — including how to prevent it and what to do in case of an emergency — for workers and employers. Click to visit OSHA’s WebPage on Heat Illness
New This Year: FREE Heat Index Ap!
The U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) developed the heat index system. The heat index combines both air temperature and relative humidity into a single value that indicates the apparent temperature in degrees Fahrenheit, or how hot the weather will feel. The higher the heat index, the hotter the weather will feel, and the greater the risk that outdoor workers will experience heat-related illness. NOAA issues heat advisories as the heat index rises.
Working with NOAA, OSHA has released a free application for mobile devices that enables workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites. The app displays a risk level for workers based on the heat index. Then, with a simple "click," you can get reminders about the protective measures that should be taken at that risk level to protect workers from heat-related illness-reminders about drinking enough fluids, scheduling rest breaks, planning for and knowing what to do in an emergency, adjusting work operations, gradually building up the workload for new workers, training on heat illness signs and symptoms, and monitoring each other for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.
Available for Android-based platforms and the iPhone, the app can be downloaded in both English and Spanish. Download OSHA’s Free Heat Index Application
In developing last year's inaugural national campaign, federal OSHA worked closely with the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration and adapted materials from that state's successful campaign. Additionally, OSHA is partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the second year to incorporate worker safety precautions when heat alerts are issued across the nation. NOAA also includes pertinent worker safety information on its heat watch webpage at noaawatch.gov/themes/heat.php