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Keeping workers cool

Safety & Codes | August 1, 2011 | By:

Protect workers from heat-related illnesses.

Each year, thousands of outdoor workers experience heat illness, which often manifests as heat exhaustion. If not quickly addressed, heat exhaustion can become heat stroke, which killed more than 30 workers in 2010.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched a national outreach initiative to educate workers and their employers about the hazards of working outdoors in the heat, and steps needed to prevent heat-related illnesses.

“If you’re working outdoors, you’re at risk for heat-related illnesses that can cause serious medical problems and even death,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “But heat illness can be prevented. This Labor Department campaign will reach across the country with a very simple message—water, rest and shade.”

Heat illness educational materials are available in English and Spanish, as well as a curriculum to be used for workplace training. A new web page provides information and resources on heat illness, including how to prevent it and what to do in case of an emergency.

Federal OSHA has worked closely with the California OSHA to adapt materials from that state’s successful outreach campaign on heat illness for use in this national effort. In addition, OSHA is now partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on weather service alerts that will incorporate worker safety precautions when heat alerts are issued across the U.S. NOAA also will include pertinent worker safety information on its Heat Watch web page.

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