Workers Warned About Heat Stress

The Washington state Department of Labor & Industries noted that roofing, highway construction, and agricultural work are some occupations in the state with workers particularly vulnerable to heat-related illnesses when temperatures rise.

Hot weather in the U.S. northwest is causing agencies that include the Washington state Department of Labor & Industries to urge employers and workers to take precautions to prevent heat-related illness. Workers are being warned they may experience heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion, fainting, nausea, and other symptoms from exposure to extreme heat, and that heat-related illness can rapidly escalate to heat stroke, which can be fatal.

L&I noted that roofing, highway construction, and agricultural work are some occupations in the state with workers particularly vulnerable to heat-related illnesses when temperatures rise. It asks those working outdoors in hot weather to follow these five tips:

  • Drink a lot of water. Start work well hydrated and try to drink a cup every 15 minutes.
  • Keep an eye on your co-workers. Watch those working around you for signs of heat-related illness, including headaches, dizziness, or nausea.
  • Don't overdo it. Pace your work and take scheduled breaks in the shade.
  • Wear lightweight clothing and remove protective gear when it's safe to do so.
  • Limit caffeine and avoid heavy meals.

Employers with workers who work outdoors must train both employees and supervisors to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illness and the steps to take if someone shows symptoms, according to the agency, and employers also must provide plenty of water for workers, respond appropriately to any employee with symptoms of illness, and include heat-related-illness hazards in their accident prevention program.

For more information, visit Lni.wa.gov/Safety/Topics/AtoZ/heatstress.

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