As summer heats up and heat indexes rise to dangerous levels across the country and along the Gulf Coast, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is hoping to raise awareness among employers and workers about the dangers of working in extreme heat. The campaign’s important message comes down to three words: Water. Rest. Shade.
Each year dozens of workers die and thousands become ill while working in extreme heat and humid conditions. While more than 40 percent of heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry and a high percentage take place in heavy manufacturing, workers across the Gulf Coast are at risk, from refinery and petrochemical plant workers to transportation workers to lawn care professionals. And make no mistake: Heat illnesses can affect anyone, regardless of age or physical condition.
Most people know employers are responsible for providing safe and healthy workplaces for their employees, but we sometimes forget this includes hazardous heat. According to OSHA, employers are responsible for establishing a complete heat illness prevention program that includes the following:
- Providing workers with water, rest and shade.
- Allowing new or returning workers to gradually increase workloads and take more frequent breaks as they acclimate, or build up a tolerance, for working in the heat.
- Planning for emergencies and training workers on prevention.
- Monitoring workers for signs of illness.
OSHA provides extensive materials and information for both workers and employers here.
Stevenson & Murray has broad experience representing and advocating for injured workers and their families. If you have questions about a heat-related illness or work-related injury, contact us for a no-obligation consultation.