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PROPERTY & CASUALTY
AUG 04, 2017
Heat Safety: Protect Your Workers and Their Rights
It’s clear that heat safety is important and that there are measures that can and should be taken by workers and employers alike, but it’s sometimes not as a clear
heat can be so dangerous and what rights workers have to a safe workplace. This makes it crucial for you to understand your responsibilities to protect and educate your employees about heat safety.
Why is heat a hazard to workers?
The body regulates its core temperature constantly by sweating and circulating blood to the skin. However, the hotter the air temperature, the more difficult this becomes. When the air is just as warm as, or warmer than, the body’s normal temperature, the blood circulated to the skin is unable to release excess heat. In this case, the body’s primary way of cooling off becomes sweating, which is really only effective if both the humidity level is low enough to allow the sweat to evaporate and the lost salt and fluids are replaced.
If it’s hot and humid enough to prevent the body from releasing its excess heat, the person then becomes vulnerable to a variety of heat illnesses: the heart rate increases, causing the person to have difficulty focusing, becoming irritable or sick and often losing the desire to drink.
Some of the more dangerous heat illnesses, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke may become fatal. Read about them and their prevention
Who is most at risk?
People working outside in heat and humidity, or indoors with radiant heat sources, have the highest risk of heat-related illnesses. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the risk increases if the workers are “doing heavy work tasks or using bulky non-breathable clothing and equipment.” Newcomers, or those returning from time away, should also be careful when adjusting to this kind of work environment because their tolerance may be lower than workers who have been there longer or more consistently.
What are the employers’ responsibilities?
You are required by law to provide a safe workplace for your employees. This includes educating workers on the hazards of heat, and strategies to prevent heat illness. You are also responsible for providing water, a shady resting area and adequate breaks for your workers.
One useful resource for determining the level of risk workers may face while out in the heat is the OSHA-National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Heat Safety Tool App. Available in the Apple App store, it provides a visual indicator of the current heat index in any given location, as well as offering precautionary recommendations specific to those heat levels.
For more information about heat safety, please contact your agency or local Amerisure Loss Control Consultant at 800-257-1900 or
Protect Your Workers from Heat Illnesses