Outdoor Workers Are Getting Extra Help in Beating the Heat

“For outdoor workers, ‘water, rest and shade’ are three words that can make the difference between life and death,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “If employers take reasonable precautions, and look out for their workers, we can beat the heat.” Such precautions include:

  • Wearing light and breathable clothing and a hat to block the sun
  • Drinking at least cup of water three to four times each hour; avoiding alcohol, coffee and other caffeinated beverages that increase fluid loss
  • Taking frequent five-minute breaks in the shade
  • Acclimating the body to the heat at a slow pace; starting with a lighter work load and more frequent breaks

Signs of Heat Illness

Preventing heat illness includes knowing the signs to watch for. From the least to most severe, the following are the three main heat illnesses and their signs:

  • Mild illness: heat cramps, mild impairment of sensory, visual or motor skills
  • Heat exhaustion: headache, nausea, weakness, intense thirst, possible fainting
  • Heat stroke (life-threatening): confusion, convulsions, loss of consciousness, irrational behavior, high body temperature, dry skin, no sweating

OSHA’s campaign to prevent heat illness in outdoor workers will surely saves lives if heeded. Its simple message of “water, rest and shade” and the vast amount of resources made available will help employers and employees stay safe during these brutal summer months.