Whether securing shingles on rooftops, handling boxes on production lines, or tending to crops in the fields, working in heat requires proper hydration. It is crucial to encourage workers to consume at least one cup (8 ounces) of refreshing water every 20 minutes, even if they don’t feel thirsty to prevent heat-related illness.
Findings by OSHA:
- Research indicates that nearly half of all heat-related fatalities occur during a worker’s initial day on the job (Arbury, 2014).
- Over 70 percent of heat-related deaths take place within the first week of employment (Tustin, 2018). These incidents can be avoided if employers take proactive measures to safeguard new workers.
Workers working in warm environments include:
- New, temporary, or existing employees commencing work in warm or hot environments, potentially while wearing additional clothing (such as chemical protective gear), and engaging in physically demanding tasks.
- Workers returning to job sites with heat exposure risks after an absence of one week or more, including those returning from extended leaves.
- Workers who continue their employment during seasonal transitions when temperatures start to rise in the spring or early summer.
- Workers operating on days with significantly higher temperatures compared to previous days (i.e., heat waves).
In all the above scenarios, the workers may not be acclimated to the prevailing heat loads. Consequently, these individuals face an elevated risk of heat-related illnesses due to physiological (related to body function and exertion) and/or behavioral factors.
For more information on heat stress standards: