Workers need plenty of fluids when working in the heat.

Toiling in the Heat: OSHA Offers Safety Tips

Depending on where you live and work, the hot, hazy days of summer are either already here in all their sweltering glory, or they're fast approaching. OSHA wants to remind everyone that the heat can be especially harmful for those who work outdoors in direct sunlight or in hot environments, making them susceptible to heat-induced illnesses such as heat stress, heat exhaustion, or the more serious heat stroke.

"Working in extreme temperatures is not only uncomfortable, it can be life-threatening," said acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab. "As we move into the summer months, it is important for workers and their employers to minimize the chances of heat-induced illnesses, and imperative that they recognize the signs of heat stress and take proper precautions to reduce the chances of illness or death."

High temperature and humidity, physical exertion and lack of sufficient water intake can lead to heat-related stress. Symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke include confusion, irrational behavior, loss of consciousness, abnormally high body temperature, and hot, dry skin.

OSHA advises workers to take preventive measures such as reducing physical exertion and wearing light, loose-fitting clothing. The agency advises employers to provide workers with water and regular rest periods in a cool recovery area.

Through fact sheets such as Protecting Workers from the Effects of Heat and Working Outdoors in Warm Climates, the agency explains heat stress phenomena and provides recommendations to protect workers from exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Employers and workers will find more practical tips for guarding against UV radiation in Protecting Yourself in the Sun, a pocket-sized card addressing various forms of skin cancer. These publications are free and can be downloaded from OSHA's Publications page.

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