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Heat Illness Prevention - Structuring an Effective Training Program

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Dangers of Working in the Heat

Warm weather is a welcome sign of summer, especially for regions that experienced harsh winters. That said, heat can quickly become problematic for workers placed in a hot environment without necessary resources to maintain a stable internal temperature.

When heat trapped in a worker’s body is not properly treated, their core temperature will continue to rise and heart rate increase. Should this happen and the person not be adequately cooled down, they become exposed to potential side effects of irritability, lost concentration, nausea, fainting or even death.

Heat-related illnesses range from heat rash to heat exhaustion and heatstroke. These ailments and can affect anyone, regardless of age or physical condition. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), thousands of workers in the U.S. become sick from occupational heat exposure each year and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 618 of those people die.

Heat Illnesses Prevention Training

Illnesses and deaths caused by excess heat can be prevented by establishing necessary safeguards. These precautions are typically encompassed within an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP), which is designed to help each business identify hazards to protect all of their employees in their unique workplace. 

It is important to recognize that no individual program is a one-size-fits all solution. Each should be specifically tailored to the specific company and work environment where it will be implemented. That being said, there are sample models available, which serve as helpful guidelines when structuring the foundation of your program.

Benefits of Creating an Effective IIPP

An effective IIPP will first and foremost provide your workers the best educational and physical resources available to avoid heat-related illnesses in the workplace. Beyond this, highly functioning IIPPs can mitigate costs ranging from medical treatment to lost productivity for both companies and employees.

In order to achieve and maintain such proactive heat illness prevention campaigns, companies must keep up-to-date with the latest regulations by continually evaluating and adapting their training model. Doing so begins with a thorough understanding of the latest OSHA and ANSI standards.

OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Campaign, Legal Standards and Resources

When building your company’s personal IIPP, there is no better resource for assistance in structuring its foundation than OSHA. Since 2011, OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention campaign, has educated workers and employers on the dangers of working in the heat through training sessions, outreach events, informational sessions, publications, social media messaging and media appearances.

Under OSHA law, employers are responsible for providing workplaces free of known safety hazards. This includes protecting workers from extreme heat. An employer with workers exposed to high temperatures should establish a complete heat illness prevention program.

  • Provide workers with water, rest and shade.

  • Allow new or returning workers to gradually increase workloads and take more frequent breaks as they acclimatize, or build a tolerance for working in the heat.

  • Plan for emergencies and train workers on prevention.

  • Monitor workers for signs of illness.

At the core of their prevention model, the safety message comes down to three words: Water. Rest. Shade.

Resources

OSHA's Occupational Exposure to Heat page explains what employers can do to keep workers safe and what workers need to know - including factors for heat illness, adapting to working in indoor and outdoor heat, protecting workers, recognizing symptoms, and first aid training. The page also includes resources for specific industries and OSHA workplace standards. Also look for heat illness educational and training materials on our Publications page.

Post Date: 6/5/2018



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