Heat illness is 100% preventable in the workplace, which is why SMART Safety recommends taking extra time during the summer heat to protect employees. Employees working outside in the heat should take as many water and cooling breaks as necessary to protect their overall well-being, and employers should be monitoring to ensure they are.
By enforcing that every job site has water readily available to workers, especially in the heat, OSHA is able to help reduce the number of heat-related incidents. Currently, only a handful of states have specific heat-related standards, but most states have heat-related illness regulations in their general duty clauses. This means that OSHA has the right to give a violation citation to companies who have recordable incidents due to heat safety protection neglect in the workplace.
Currently, it is not common for OSHA to give out citations in these situations, but they have and will continue to as they crack down on these incidents. A great example of this happened in March of 2018 when a Florida company faced penalties of $22,173 after failing to protect workers when working in dangerous temperatures, which caused a fatal incident. Read more about this incident in OSHA’s News Release.
California OSHA (Cal/OSHA) specifically outlines standards for working in the heat and enforces that applicable employers must create a Heat Illness Prevention Plan. These plans are expected to clearly summarize how the company plans to provide workers with adequate means to to prevent heat illness. Cal/OSHA provides a great sample and more information on how to successfully build a prevention plan in Employer Sample Procedures for Heat Illness Prevention.
So, what are the signs and symptoms of heat illness? Confusion, dizziness, nausea, headaches, fainting, rapid pulse, high body temperature and weakness are just a few of the symptoms of heat illness. There are many similarities in symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and it is extraordinarily important that employees are aware of the differences between each one. The difference could result in a life or death situation. For a breakdown of the symptoms and signs of heat exhaustion versus heat stroke check out Heat + Work = Exhaustion.
For information on how SMART Safety can assist your company with heat safety awareness or safety program management, please visit our website and use our Contact Us button or give us a call at (844) 820-8098.
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