Working in Hot Environments
Employers and workers should avoid worker exposure to extreme heat, sun exposure and high humidity when possible. When these exposures cannot be avoided, employers and workers should take steps to avoid worker heat stress.
Workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments may be at risk of heat stress. Exposure to extreme heat can result in occupational illnesses and injuries. Heat stress can result in heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat rashes. Heat can also increase the risk of injuries in workers as it may result in sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, and dizziness.
Employers and workers should avoid worker exposure to extreme heat, sun exposure, and high humidity when possible. When these exposures cannot be avoided, employers should establish policies and practices and provide supervision so that workers take the following steps to prevent heat stress:
- Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing such as cotton.
- Avoid non-breathing synthetic clothing.
- Gradually build up to heavy work.
- Schedule heavy work during the coolest parts of day.
- Take more breaks in extreme heat and humidity.
- Take breaks in the shade or a cool area when possible.
- Drink water frequently. Drink enough water that you never become thirsty.
- Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol, and large amounts of sugar.
- Be aware that protective clothing or personal protective equipment may increase the risk of heat stress.
- Monitor your physical condition and that of your coworkers.
CDC. Heat-Related Deaths Among Crop Workers --- United States, 1992-2006. MMWR 57(24);649-653.
- CDC: Extreme Heat
Additional information on heat stress illnesses and prevention. En Español
- NIOSH: Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Hot Environments (Revised Criteria 1986)
This document presents the criteria, techniques, and procedures for the assessment, evaluation, and control of occupational heat stress by engineering and preventive work practices. Included are ways of predicting health risks, procedures for control of heat stress, and techniques for prevention and treatment of heat-related illnesses.
- NIOSH: Working in Hot Environments
Workers who are suddenly exposed to working in a hot environment face additional and generally avoidable hazards to their safety and health. This publication discusses the safety and health consequences of heat stress.
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