Millions of US workers are exposed to heat on the job, with thousands becoming sick from occupational heat exposure – or worse.
Exposure to environmental heat led to 43 work-related deaths in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, OSHA reported that more than 40 percent of heat-related worker deaths occurred in the construction industry, and warns that all industries are susceptible to heat-related deaths or injuries.
Understanding the heat index
The risk of heat stroke dramatically increases when the heat index reaches 90 degrees or more. Better known as the "feels-like" temperature, the heat index doesn't just refer to the temperature that you see on the thermometer but rather what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with the air temperature.
For this reason, it's essential to monitor both the temperature and the heat index throughout the day; the human body responds to the heat index... not just the actual temperature.
That's why an understanding of the signs and symptoms of heat stress is extremely important so you can act immediately if you or someone on your job site starts to experience any of them.
While onsite, it's important for workers to stay hydrated, find shade, and take breaks often. Working long hours in high temperatures can use the body's internal temperature to rise, resulting in discomfort, fatigue, and in some cases, heat stress or heat stroke.
Heat stress, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are very real threats for workers during the summer months, so it's important to plan and prepare for these situations.
Having preventative measures in place can help drastically reduce the number of heat-related illnesses on the job - and a checklist can help.
Download our OSHA Heat-Related Illness Prevention Training Checklist to ensure you, your crew, and your work site are prepared for the hot weather.