OSHA Issues Reminder to Protect Workers During Heatwave

June 15, 2022

As much of the country suffers through an intense heatwave this week, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is issuing reminders for employers to protect their workers from heat injuries through its Water Rest Shade message.

OSHA offers practical tips and advice to help employees avoid heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and other illnesses caused by extreme temperatures. Hospitals have been filling up with people who have become sick while mowing the lawn or doing other strenuous maintenance activities in the extreme heat, CNN reports.

Of all the natural disasters, heat is the No. 1 killer. And as temperatures continue to rise due to climate change, even more people will become ill.

The number of heatwaves per year are steadily rising, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In the 1960s, the U.S. experienced about two heatwaves a year. By the 2010s that number increased to about six per year.

The most common heat-related illnesses are heatstroke and heat exhaustion. Heatstroke occurs when the body can’t cool itself and a person’s temperature can rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Symptoms can include sweating, confusion, fainting, and seizures.

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses too much water or salt through excessive sweating. Symptoms can include nausea, dizziness, irritability, thirst, headache, and elevated body temperature.

If your workers exhibit any of these symptoms, act quickly. Call an ambulance and while waiting for medical assistance try to cool the person by moving them to shade and giving them water.