construction worker wiping his forehead in the heat

Beating the Heat: Occupational Workers Exposed to Environmental Heat

The summer months are an important time to recall the dangers that extreme heat causes for those men and women who work outdoors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 1992 and 2007, a total of 461 worker deaths occurred due to exposure to environmental heat. The illnesses that extreme heat exposure can inflict upon those in the agricultural, construction and roofing industries, to name a few, can and should be avoided.

Heat stress and heat stroke are two heat-related illnesses that occupational workers need to be aware of. Heat stress is characterized by one or more of the following: profuse sweating, dizziness and fainting, fatigue, intense headaches and nausea. Heat stroke is characterized by excessive body temperature (over 103°), red, dry skin (sweating has ceased), disorientation and altered behavior. If these symptoms are recognized in a fellow worker, call 911 immediately and remove the person to a cool or air-conditioned area.

Skin cancer is another illness that needs to be addressed. Whether it is summer or not, if the sun is shining you are in danger of being exposed to harmful UVA and UVB rays that cause skin cancer. If you work outside wear a sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 15.

Some common sense practices can help occupational workers avoid the dangers of sun and heat exposure. These include staying hydrated throughout the day (avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages), taking frequent breaks in the shade or air conditioning if possible, wearing light-colored clothing that allows your skin to breathe, blocking out direct sunlight, and wearing sunscreen and sunglasses that provide UV protection.


This information is provided as a service to you by Compliance Consultants, Inc.

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