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Environmental Health and Safety Blog | EHSWire

Prevent Heat-Related Illness

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jul 8, 2015 10:17:52 AM

prevent_heat_related_illnessIn the United States, heat is among the leading causes of climate-associated death 

Every year, hundreds of individuals die on account of heat- related illnesses and thousands more become ill. As many workers can simply start their days in air-conditioning and remain inside, outdoor workers in scorching environments do not have this luxury and cooling off isn’t that simple. Individuals working in outdoors environments are at a particularly higher risk for heat stress. To promote heat-related safety measures, the National Weather Service works with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration annually to teach individuals about excessive heat and precautionary measures to prevent heat illness.

NOAA’s Watch, Warning and Advisory resources for intense heat are derived from several elements. By mixing the outdoor temperature with moisture content in the air, NOAA is able to calculate how hot it feels, and provide this information as the heat index. When working in direct sunlight, it's suggested to add approximately 15 degrees towards the heat index as the direct sunlight may cause it to feel even hotter. These items and indices support businesses and personnel plans for heat protection. By planning work schedules, acclimatizing workers, ensuring suitable amounts of shade, water and air conditioned locations available, the risks pertaining to heat stress can be reduced.

If you’re unsure of the humidity at any period, or simply how to assess heat index, you'll be able to download the OSHA Heat Safety Tool. OSHA’s Heat Safety Tool is a smartphone app that determines the heat index based on your location at any given time, and provides you with heat measurements and calculated danger levels. The app has been recently updated for iOS to be more intuitive by incorporating the daily maximum heat/temperature index’s, in order to plan daily work schedules. Daily work schedules are very beneficial in avoiding the risks of heat stress by organizing activities to complete the most strenuous tasks during the cooler parts of the day. 

Discover more on how best to become weather-prepared and stop additional weather-related risks from OSHA and NWS

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