Protecting workers from heat exposure is paramount, especially as the U.S. enters the summer months.
As temperatures rise, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reminds employers and workers not to ignore the dangers of working in a hot environment — indoors and out — and remember that adequate heat protection can be the difference between ending the workday safely or suffering serious illness or death.
From 2011-2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 344 worker-related deaths in the U.S. were due to environmental heat exposure. Workplace safety experts believe the actual number of heat-related fatalities might be underreported or misreported as other causes, such as heart attacks.
To combat the dangers of heat exposure, OSHA highlighted strategies employers can put in place to protect worker safety:
- Encourage workers to drink water every 15 minutes.
- Take frequent rest breaks in the shade to cool down.
- Have an emergency plan ready to respond when a worker shows signs of heat-related illness.
- Train workers on the hazards of heat exposure and how to prevent illness.
- Allow workers to build a tolerance for working in heat.
OSHA's mantra "Water. Rest. Shade." can help employers maintain a safe working environment as summer approaches.