Summer heat can be especially harmful for those who work outdoors in direct sunlight or hot environments, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration warns. Outdoor workers need to take steps to protect themselves from a variety of heat- and sun-related dangers, including heat exhaustion and 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. "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. Employers should 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 can be downloaded free from OSHA's Publications page, available through www.osha.gov.