Oregon OSHA, 350 Winter Street NE Room 430, Salem, Oregon 97301-3878
For immediate release:
July 10, 2012
Melanie Mesaros, Public Information Officer
Rising temperatures increase risks for workers
Understand the signs of heat exhaustion; take precautions
(Salem) – When Oregon temperatures climb into the 90s and even the 100s, people are not acclimated to the heat and that can cause serious problems. Workers run the risk of developing a heat-related illness when physical exertion is combined with high temperatures and high humidity.
Employers and workers should be familiar with some of the common signs of heat exhaustion, according to Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services. A person overcome with heat exhaustion will still sweat but may experience extreme fatigue, nausea, lightheadedness, or a headache. The person could have clammy and moist skin, a pale complexion, and a normal or only slightly elevated body temperature. If heat exhaustion is not treated promptly, the illness could progress to heat stroke, and possibly even death.
“Employers need to plan ahead. These types of illnesses can sneak up on workers,” said Penny Wolf-McCormick, health enforcement manager for Oregon OSHA.
From 2007 through 2011, 38 people received benefits through Oregon’s workers’ compensation system for heat-related illnesses.
To help those suffering from heat exhaustion:
Certain medications, wearing personal protective equipment while on the job, and a past case of heat stress create a higher risk for heat illness.
Heat stroke is a different condition than heat exhaustion. There are several reactions that occur in the human body with heat stroke: hot, red skin (looks like sunburn); mood changes; irritability and confusion; and collapsing (person will not respond to verbal commands). Call for emergency help immediately if you think the person is suffering from heat stroke. If not treated quickly, the condition can result in death.
Here are some tips for preventing a heat-induced illness:
“If employers and workers take these precautions, workers will be safe and the summer will be much better for all concerned,” Wolf-McCormick said.
Federal OSHA recently released a heat stress app for mobile phones that allows workers and supervisors to calculate the heat index for their worksite. The tool is available at www.osha.gov.
Oregon OSHA also has a pocket-sized booklet available, in both English and Spanish, with tips for working in the heat:
Employers can also download posters, in both English and Spanish, from Oregon OSHA’s website:
Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go to www.orosha.org.
The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.dcbs.oregon.gov.