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Its summer, OSHA warns of the dangers of heat

With summer here, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) is again emphasizing the dangers of the summer heat for any workers who are exposed to high heat and humidity. While heat may affect workers in the South, OSHA’s heat fatality map indicates at least three workers in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania have died due to heat stroke in the last four years.

It’s not just construction and highway workers who are at risk, the New Jersey fatality was worker collecting garbage and the New York victim worked at a golf course. Heat stroke is preventable and no one wants their family to need to submit a workers’ compensation claim for death benefits for such avoidable circumstance.

OSHA warns that all workers exposed to conditions of high heat and humidity are at risk, especially those who have to wear heavy protective clothing, like firefighters. High dew points can be very dangerous, because the apparent temperature may be much higher than the air temperature. A high dew point means the body’s ability to cool itself by sweating is greatly diminished, and the risk of heat stroke substantially increased.

The National Weather Service issues Excessive Heat Watch and Warnings in these conditions, and everyone who works outside or in buildings without air-conditioning should pay attention.

OSHA has also developed an app, available for iPhones, Android and Blackberry phones, that allows supervisors and workers to calculate the heat index for their worksite. It also calculates the risk level, and can provide reminders of the protective measures that need to be taken at that risk level. 

Source: WEKU News, “New OSHA App meant to Keep Workers Cooler,” Stu Johnson, June 3, 2013