July 2024 Safety News

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Safety News 2024

Summer to End with Scorching Heat, Fall to Begin with Cool-Down

Extreme Heat

Workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments may be at risk of heat stress. Exposure to extreme heat can result in occupational illnesses and injuries. Heat stress can result in heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat rashes. Heat can also increase the risk of injuries in workers as it may result in sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, and dizziness. Burns may also occur as a result of accidental contact with hot surfaces or steam.

Workers at risk of heat stress include outdoor workers and workers in hot environments such as firefighters, bakery workers, farmers, construction workers, miners, boiler room workers, factory workers, and others.

Workers at greater risk of heat stress include those who are 65 years of age or older, are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure, or take medications that may be affected by extreme heat.

Prevention of heat stress in workers is important. 

Heat Related Illnesses

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body can no longer control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause permanent disability or death if the person does not receive emergency treatment.

Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness (coma)
  • Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
  • Seizures
  • Very high body temperature
  • Fatal if treatment delayed

First Aid

Take the following steps to treat a worker with heat stroke:

  • Call 911 for emergency medical care.
  • Stay with the worker until emergency medical services arrive.
  • Move the worker to a shaded, cool area and remove outer clothing.
  • Cool the worker quickly, using the following methods:
    • With a cold water or ice bath, if possible
    • Wet the skin
    • Place cold wet cloths on the skin
    • Soak clothing with cool water
  • Circulate the air around the worker to speed cooling.
  • Place cold wet cloths or ice on the head, neck, armpits, and groin; or soak the clothing with cool water.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to an excessive loss of water and salt, usually through excessive sweating. Heat exhaustion is most likely to affect:

  • The elderly
  • People with high blood pressure
  • Those working in a hot environment

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Irritability
  • Thirst
  • Heavy sweating
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Decreased urine output

First Aid

Treat a worker who has heat exhaustion by doing the following:

  • Take worker to a clinic or emergency room for medical evaluation and treatment.
  • Call 911 if medical care is unavailable.
  • Have someone stay with the worker until help arrives.
  • Remove the worker from the hot area and give liquids to drink.
  • Remove unnecessary clothing, including shoes and socks.
  • Cool the worker with cold compresses or have the worker wash their head, face, and neck with cold water.
  • Encourage frequent sips of cool water.


Rhabdomyolysis (rhabdo) is a medical condition associated with heat stress and prolonged physical exertion. Rhabdo causes the rapid breakdown, rupture, and death of muscle. When muscle tissue dies, electrolytes and large proteins are released into the bloodstream. This can cause irregular heart rhythms, seizures, and damage to the kidneys.

Symptoms of rhabdo include:

  • Muscle cramps/pain
  • Abnormally dark (tea or cola-colored) urine
  • Weakness
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Asymptomatic

First Aid

Workers with symptoms of rhabdo should:

  • Stop activity
  • Drink more liquids (water preferred)
  • Seek immediate care at the nearest medical facility.
  • Ask to be checked for rhabdomyolysis (i.e., blood sample analyzed for creatine kinase).

Heat Syncope

Heat syncope is a fainting (syncope) episode or dizziness that usually occurs when standing for too long or suddenly standing up after sitting or lying. Factors that may contribute to heat syncope include dehydration and lack of acclimatization.

Symptoms of heat syncope include:

  • Fainting (short duration)
  • Dizziness
  • Light-headedness from standing too long or suddenly rising from a sitting or lying position

First Aid

Workers with heat syncope should:

  • Sit or lie down in a cool place.
  • Slowly drink water, clear juice, or a sports drink.

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps usually affect workers who sweat a lot during strenuous activity. This sweating depletes the body’s salt and moisture levels. Low salt levels in muscles cause painful cramps. Heat cramps may also be a symptom of heat exhaustion.

Symptoms of heat cramps include:

Muscle cramps, pain, or spasms in the abdomen, arms, or legs

First Aid

Workers with heat cramps should do the following:

  • Drink water and have a snack or a drink that replaces carbohydrates and electrolytes (such as sports drinks) every 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Avoid salt tablets.
  • Get medical help if the worker:
    • Has heart problems.
    • Is on a low sodium diet.
    • Has cramps that do not subside within 1 hour.

Heat Rash

Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather.

Symptoms of heat rash include:

  • Red clusters of pimples or small blisters
  • Usually appears on the neck, upper chest, groin, under the breasts, and in elbow creases

First Aid

Workers who have heat rash should:

  • Work in a cooler, less humid environment, if possible.
  • Keep the rash area dry.
  • Apply powder to increase comfort.
  • Don’t use ointments and creams.

Heat Stress Recommendations


Control Heat StressOSHA Emphasis on Addressing Heat Hazards is Pretty Cool

Employers should reduce workplace heat stress by using engineering and administrative (work practice) controls. An engineering control could be a change to the design of the workplace that reduces exposure to heat. Administrative controls are changes to tasks or schedules to reduce heat stress.

Engineering controls might include those that:

  • Increase air velocity.
  • Use reflective or heat-absorbing shielding or barriers.
  • Reduce steam leaks, wet floors, or humidity.

Work practice recommendations include the following:

  • Limit time in the heat and/or increase recovery time spent in a cool area.
  • Reduce the metabolic (physically difficult) demands of the job.
  • Use tools intended to minimize manual strain.
  • Increase the number of workers per task.
  • Train supervisors and workers about heat stress.
  • Use a buddy system where workers observe each other for signs of heat-related illnesses.
  • Require workers to conduct self-monitoring and create a work group (i.e., workers, a qualified healthcare provider, and a safety manager) to make decisions on self-monitoring options and standard operating procedures.
  • Provide adequate amounts of cool, potable water near the work area and encourage workers to drink often.
  • Use a heat alert program whenever the weather service forecasts a heat wave.
  • Institute a heat acclimatization plan and encourage increased physical fitness.


Train workers before hot outdoor work begins. Tailor the training to worksite conditions.

Employers should provide a heat stress training program for all workers and supervisors about the following:

  • Recognition of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and administra­tion of first aid.
  • Causes of heat-related illnesses and steps to reduce the risk. These include drinking enough water and monitoring the color and amount of urine output.
  • Proper care and use of heat-protective clothing and equipment and the added heat load caused by exertion, clothing, and per­sonal protective equipment.
  • Effects of other factors (drugs, alcohol, obesity, etc.) on tolerance to occupational heat stress.
  • The importance of acclimatization.
  • The importance of immediately reporting any symptoms or signs of heat-related illness in themselves or in coworkers to the supervisor.
  • Procedures for responding to symptoms of possible heat-related illness and for contacting emergency medical ser­vices.

Supervisors should also be trained on the following:

  • Implementing appropriate acclimatization.
  • What procedures to follow when a worker has symptoms of heat-related illness, including emergency response procedures.
  • Monitoring weather reports.
  • Responding to hot weather advisories.
  • Monitoring and encouraging adequate fluid intake and rest breaks.


Acclimatization is the result of beneficial physiological adaptations (e.g., increased sweating efficiency, etc.) that occur after gradual increased exposure to a hot environment. Employers should ensure that workers are acclimatized before they work in a hot environment.

  • Gradually increase workers’ time in hot conditions over 7 to 14 days.
  • For new workers, the schedule should be:
    • No more than 20% of the usual duration of work in the heat on day 1.
    • No more than 20% increase on each additional day.
  • For workers with previous experience, the schedule should be:
    • No more than 50% of the usual duration of work in the heat on day 1
    • No more than 60% of the usual duration of work in the heat on day 2
    • No more than 80% of the usual duration of work in the heat on day 3
    • No more than 100% of the usual duration of work in the heat on day 4.
  • Closely supervise new employees for the first 14 days or until they are fully acclimatized.
  • Workers who are not physically fit need more time to fully acclimatize.
  • Acclimatization can be maintained for a few days of non-heat exposure.
  • Taking breaks in air conditioning will not affect acclimatization.


Employers should provide the means for appropriate hydration of workers.

  • Water should be potable, <15°C (59°F), and made accessible near the work area.
  • Estimate how much water will be needed and decide who will get and check on water supplies.
  • Provide individual drinking cups for each worker.
  • Encourage workers to hydrate themselves.

Workers should drink an appropriate amount to stay hydrated.

  • For moderate activities in the heat that last less than 2 hours, drink 1 cup (8 oz.) of water every 15–20 minutes.
  • If sweating lasts for several hours, drink sports drinks containing balanced electrolytes.
  • Avoid alcohol and drinks with high caffeine or sugar.
  • Generally, fluid intake should not exceed 6 cups per hour.

Rest Breaks

Employers should ensure and encourage workers to take appropriate rest breaks to cool down and hydrate.

  • Permit rest and water breaks when a worker feels heat discomfort.
  • Modify work/rest periods to give the body a chance to get rid of excess heat.
  • Assign new and unacclimatized workers lighter work and longer, more frequent rest periods.
  • Shorten work periods and increase rest periods:
    • As temperature, humidity, and sunshine increase.
    • When there is no air movement.
    • If protective clothing or equipment is worn.
    • For heavier work.


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