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NIHHIS Heat Safety Awareness Week: Protecting Workers and Businesses as Summer Heats Up

With summer’s heat rapidly approaching, it’s vital to be aware of the dangers of extreme temperatures, especially in workplaces where outdoor activities are frequent. Every year, thousands of workers suffer from heat-related illnesses, and many of these cases could have been prevented with proper awareness and precautions. The National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS) recognizes this and has designated a week dedicated to Heat Safety Awareness, urging businesses and workers to take necessary steps to protect themselves from the risks associated with high temperatures.

Understanding Heat-Related Illnesses

Before delving into heat safety measures, it’s important to understand the various heat-related illnesses that can affect individuals working in hot environments:

  1. Heat Cramps: Painful muscle spasms that usually occur during heavy physical activity in hot environments. They are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat.
  2. Heat Exhaustion: This occurs when the body loses excessive amounts of water and salt through sweating, leading to dehydration. Symptoms include heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, headache, and fainting.
  3. Heat Stroke: The most severe form of heat-related illness, heat stroke occurs when the body’s temperature regulation fails, and the body temperature rises to critical levels (usually above 104°F or 40°C). Heat stroke is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not treated promptly. Symptoms include confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures, and hot, dry skin. Today, Wednesday, May 1st is recognized as National Heatstroke Prevention Day!

NIHHIS Heat Safety Awareness Week

Heat Safety Awareness Week is an annual event designed to raise awareness about the dangers of heat-related illnesses and promote safety measures that businesses and workers can implement to stay safe during hot weather. This year, it is observed the week of April 29 through May 3rd, with a focus on providing information and resources to help employers and workers prevent heat-related illnesses.

Heat Safety Tips for Businesses

Businesses have a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees, especially when working in hot environments. Here are some tips for businesses to help prevent heat-related illnesses among their workforce:

  1. Provide Training: Ensure that employees are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and know what to do if they or their coworkers show signs of distress.
  2. Schedule Outdoor Work Carefully: Whenever possible, schedule outdoor work during the coolest parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening. If work must be done during the hottest part of the day, ensure proper monitoring procedures are taken. For example, the Digital Outdoor Temperature Sensor was specifically designed for this type of workplace safety application. With an external silicone coating, the Digital Outdoor Temperature Sensor is resilient enough for temperature monitoring outdoors or in other harsh environments.
  3. Provide Adequate Water and Rest Breaks: Encourage employees to drink plenty of water throughout the day, even if they do not feel thirsty. Provide access to shaded or air-conditioned rest areas where employees can cool off during breaks.
  4. Monitor Weather Conditions: Stay informed about weather forecasts and be prepared to adjust work schedules or take additional precautions as needed during periods of extreme heat.
  5. Encourage the Use of Protective Clothing and Equipment: Provide lightweight, loose-fitting clothing and encourage employees to wear hats and sunglasses to protect against the sun’s rays. Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) that is designed to keep workers cool while providing adequate protection.

Worker Safety and OSHA Compliance

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides guidelines and regulations to help employers protect their workers from heat-related illnesses. Under the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, all employers are required to provide their employees with a place of employment that “is free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm to employees.” This means that employers have a legal obligation to provide a workplace free of conditions or activities that either the employer or industry recognizes as hazardous and that cause, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to employees when there is a feasible method to abate the hazard. This includes heat-related hazards that are likely to cause death or serious bodily harm. Furthermore, many states run their own OSHA-approved State Plans with even stricter regulations. California, Colorado, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington have standards for heat exposure.

As we near the summer months, it’s crucial for businesses and workers to take proactive steps to prevent heat-related illnesses. By following best practices and staying informed about heat safety, employers can protect their workers and ensure a safe and healthy work environment.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about heat safety and how to best prepare with Room Alert, please contact us today through email at Sales@RoomAlert.com, through our online Live Chat service, or via phone at 401.628.1600.

Room Alert is Made in the USA, ships worldwide from our locations in the US and EU, and has been protecting facilities since 1988.

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