Preventing Heat-Related Illness
Federal OSHA developed an outreach campaign to raise awareness among workers and employers about the hazards of working outdoors in hot weather.
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.
This webpage is part of OSHA’s nationwide outreach campaign to raise awareness among workers and employers about the hazards of working outdoors in hot weather. The educational resources on this website give workers and employers information about heat illnesses and how to prevent them. There are also training tools for employers to use and posters to display at their worksites. Many of the new resources target vulnerable workers with limited English proficiency. OSHA will continue to add information and tools to this page throughout the summer.
OSHA is also partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on weather service alerts. NOAA’s Heat Watch page now includes worker safety precautions when extreme heat alerts are issued.
We invite you to join in this effort by helping to reach workers and employers in your community with the resources you will find on this site.
Who is affected? Workers exposed to hot and humid conditions are at risk of heat illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky protective clothing and equipment. Some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions.
What is heat illness? The body normally cools itself by sweating. During hot weather, especially with high humidity, sweating isn't enough. Body temperature can rise to dangerous levels if precautions are not taken. Heat illnesses range from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke can result in death and requires immediate medical attention.
How can heat illness be prevented? Remember three simple words: water, rest, shade. Drinking water often, taking breaks, and limiting time in the heat can help prevent heat illness. Employers should include these prevention steps in worksite training and plans. Gradually build up to heavy work in hot conditions. This helps you build tolerance to the heat – or become acclimated. Employers should take steps that help workers become acclimated, especially workers who are new to working outdoors in the heat or have been away from work for a week or more. Gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks during the first week of work. Also, it’s important to know and look out for the symptoms of heat illness in yourself and others during hot weather. Plan for an emergency and know what to do — acting quickly can save lives!
Visit the Federal OSHA website www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html