Seasonal safety: Summer Heat stress

NIOSH report highlights importance of preventing heat-related illness

Washington – A recently released NIOSH report offers advice on employer policies for working in extreme heat.

Released in June, the report is based on an evaluation of heat stress at a national park in California, but the agency said its recommendations can be applied to other worksites where extreme heat may be a factor.

During an onsite evaluation of nine employees in July 2013, NIOSH found one employee had a core body temperature above the defined heat strain criteria. Several had sustained maximum heart rates consistent with heat strain.

NIOSH determined the park needed to adjust its current and proposed heat stress policies by improving access to radios, notifying the safety manager of changing work locations, and using the buddy system.

NIOSH offers the following advice for employees:

  • Follow the heat stress policy.
  • Carry a radio.
  • Avoid working alone.
  • Learn the signs and symptoms of excessive heat strain.
  • Self-monitor and document heat strain signs and symptoms.
  • Tell your supervisor immediately if you or a co-worker has symptoms of heat-related illness.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Take rest breaks.