Seasonal safety: Summer Heat stress

NIOSH to employers: Help workers acclimatize to heat

Washington – Careful planning is needed to help new employees adapt to working in hot environments, NIOSH stressed in a July 14 blog post.

When workers are first exposed to hot work environments, they may experience symptoms of heat-related illnesses, so proper acclimatization will lower their risk of illness and death, NIOSH states, noting that new workers can take up to 14 days to be acclimatized.

New workers should spend no more than 1.5 hours of an eight-hour shift working in the heat on their first day, and their exposure should increase no more than 20 percent each day, NIOSH recommends. Healthy workers with previous experience on the job should not have more than four hours of heat exposure during the first eight-hour day, increasing exposure daily to a full eight hours by the fourth day.

The blog post recommends that supervisors encourage all workers to take water breaks throughout the day – in a cool place and out of direct sunlight.

Each year, thousands of workers suffer illnesses and dozens die due to heat exposure, according to OSHA, which asserts that these illnesses and deaths are preventable.