Heat stress

‘Heat is on the way,’ OSHA and the National Weather Service warn

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Photo: OSHA

Washington – OSHA administrator David Michaels is asking meteorologists and newscasters to incorporate worker safety messages into broadcasts about approaching hot weather hazards.

“By speaking directly to those working physically demanding jobs under the hot sun, you can save lives,” Michaels said during a June 10 press conference.

Since 2008, more than 100 workers have suffered a heat-related death, according to OSHA. To help reduce such deaths or illnesses, OSHA and the National Weather Service have partnered over the past five summers to educate the public about the dangers heat poses to workers.

NWS heat warnings now have a “call to action” that includes language targeting outdoor workers, recommending that they drink plenty of water, take frequent breaks in the shade or in an air-conditioned environment, and wear light-colored and lightweight clothing.

During the press conference, NWS Deputy Director Laura Furgione warned that certain areas of the country (including parts of Alaska, the Eastern Seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico) would be seeing warmer-than-average temperatures in the next two weeks. “Heat is on the way,” she said.

Employers can protect their workers from high heat by acclimatizing them to the warm conditions, Michaels said. Workers also should be monitored for symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and anyone suspected of having a heat illness should receive immediate medical attention.