Safety Update: The Heat is On!

Along with the heat comes the need for safety on the job.  Check out OSHA’s “Water. Rest. Shade.” campaign to bring safety to the forefront of your workers and outdoor construction projects.

Record highs are challenging construction workers and contractors all over the country, and summer has just begun.  From the 115 degree heat in Tuscon, AZ this week to even higher temps in Las Vegas and across the West, extreme heat puts workers and crews at high risk for heat stroke, exhaustion and dehydration.  According to OSHA, thousands of workers become ill every year due to extreme heat conditions, and more than 40% of heat-related worker death occurs within the construction industry (source: OSHA.gov).  This type of data is just enough to wake up contractors to safety precautions they can take to protect workers, as well as review business owners’ responsibilities as they pertain to the safety and protection of their crews.

So, where do you get started on heat safety?  A good place to begin is OSHA’s updated webpage for their “Water. Rest. Shade.” campaign.  Through the campaign, OSHA aims to educate employers and their workers about the dangers of working in high heat conditions, as well as provide tools and resources to stay safe during the hot summer months.  The website provides information on what other contractors are doing throughout the country, as well as useful guidelines and apps to get you started.  Here is a quick list of highlights and links to set in you in the safe and right direction:

  1. Occupational Exposure to Heat Webpage – OSHA launched a very useful page that provides need-to-know information and easily explains safety measures employers can take to keep workers safe.  The page breaks down heat-related illnesses and first aid, preventative measures to be taken by crews, a list of industry-specific resources and more.
  2. OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool Smartphone App – Available for both Apple and Adroid devices, the Heat Safety App provides a real-time heat index and hourly forecast.  Based on your location and weather conditions, the app offers occupational safety and health recommendations. Useful for assessing risk level and planning outdoor projects in advance, the Heat Safety app provides valuable information on-demand for recognizing signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and proper steps for first aid.
  3. Education – From training guides to printable posters, OSHA has a variety of materials free to download and share with your team.  Training modules are available in English and Spanish.  Even if you think your team is already aware of risks and takes the proper precautions, a little refresher never hurt anyone.  In your next weekly meeting, consider going over important points from the guide or reviewing proper steps for staying protected from the sun.  You may have new crew members or some that missed the last heat safety training; gear your training materials and resources around your crews’ needs and information that they need most on the job.
  4. National Integrated Heat Health Information System – What happens when a multitude of federal agencies come together to develop heat safety resources? Answer: An easy to use online tool kit covering heat warnings in specific areas, forecasts, detailed reports and articles, and safety tips for everyone from outdoor workers to athletes.  No matter your training needs, this website will have something, or everything, you need to get the ball rolling.
  5. Get In on the “Hot” Discussion – Be part of the heat safety movement.   Use your power on social media to spread the word about safety and demonstrate your company’s commitment to protecting workers from the heat.  You can use #WaterRestShade to be part of OSHA’s latest campaign tweets, as well as submit your ideas (email: HeatSafetyTips@dol.gov ) for how your company protects workers from heat illness.

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