W2 Issues/Concerns


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Protecting your outdoor workers in extreme heat

Do you have a workforce that is outside for large portions of the day? If so, it might be pertinent to develop a complete heat illness prevention program that complies with OSHA standards. Specifically, under OSHA law, employers are responsible for providing workplaces free of known safety hazards, which includes protecting workers from extreme heat.

As part of a complete heat illness prevention program, OSHA recommends that you:

  • Provide workers with water, rest and shade.
  • Allow new or returning workers to gradually increase workloads and take more frequent breaks as they acclimatize, or build a tolerance for working in the heat.
  • Plan for emergencies (sun stroke, heat exhaustion) and train workers on prevention.
  • Monitor workers for signs of illness.

OSHA recommends that to prevent heat related illness and fatalities, you also instruct workers to:

  • Drink water every 15 minutes, even if they are not thirsty.
  • Rest in the shade to cool down.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and light-colored clothing.
  • Keep an eye on fellow workers.
  • Call a supervisor if you suspect a heat-related emergency or, if a supervisor isn’t available, call 911.

It should also be noted that some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions, including new workers, temporary workers, or those returning to work after a week or more off. However, all workers are at risk during a heat wave.

To learn more, visit: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness

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