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Workplace Heat Illness Prevention. RIT-59 Revision A 08/28/2013. Outline. Outline Heat illness Risk factors How the body handles heat Types of heat illness Prevention of heat illness

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workplace heat illness prevention

Workplace Heat Illness Prevention

RIT-59 Revision A 08/28/2013



  • Heat illness
    • Risk factors
    • How the body handles heat
    • Types of heat illness
  • Prevention of heat illness
  • Emergency response procedures
  • Supervisor guidelines
osha standard
OSHA Standard
  • Federal OSHA Standards for Heat Illness Prevention
    • General Industry – None
      • (The following slides are specific to Construction but provide excellent guidance for General Industry)
    • Construction – 29 CFR 1926.21(b)(2)
      • Requirements
        • Heat illness prevention training for supervisors and employees
        • Provision of water
        • Access to shade
        • Local procedures for heat illness prevention

Prior to work in warm weather, supervisors and employees shall be trained on the following:

The department’s heat illness prevention procedures

Environmental and personal risk factors for heat illness

The importance of consuming water throughout the work shift

The importance of acclimatization

Common signs/symptoms of heat illness

The importance of reporting sign/symptoms of heat illness to the supervisor

Emergency response procedures

risk factors for heat illness
Risk Factors for Heat Illness
  • Weather conditions
    • Temperature
    • Humidity
    • Air movement
    • Radiant heat (ex: sunshine)
    • Conductive heat (ex: ground)
  • Higher intensity and/or duration of physical activity
  • PPE/ clothing can be a factor (i.e., tyvek overalls)
personal risk factors
Personal Risk Factors
  • Poor physical condition*
  • Age
  • Degree of acclimatization
  • Water consumption
  • Some medications*
  • Alcohol/ drugs

* Recommend checking w/ personal physician about heat illness risk

how the body handles heat
How the Body Handles Heat
  • The body tries to keep a constant internal temperature
  • As internal temperature rises from activity, the body cools itself by:
    • Increasing blood flow to skin surface
    • Releasing sweat onto skin surface
heat exhaustion
Heat Exhaustion
  • Cause:
    • Excessive loss of water and salt through sweat
  • Signs & Symptoms:
    • Headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
    • Weakness and moist skin
    • Muscle cramps
    • Mood changes such as irritability or confusion
    • Upset stomach or vomiting
heat stroke
Heat Stroke
  • Cause:
    • Total breakdown of body’s cooling system
  • Signs & Symptoms:
    • Sweating stops-- skin is hot, red, and dry
    • Mental confusion, losing consciousness
    • Fainting
    • Seizures or convulsions

Treat as a medical emergency!

It can be life threatening.

emergency response procedures
Emergency Response Procedures

For any of the previously mentioned symptoms:

  • Immediately call 911 or 9-911 (from a Ritalka work phone)
  • While waiting for help:
    • Move victim to cool area
    • Give small cup of water (if conscious and not nauseous)
    • Loosen and/or remove clothing
    • Fan and mist the person w/ water
    • Apply a water-soaked towel (or ice pack wrapped in towel) to head and ice pack to armpits
  • Contact First Aid team and a supervisor immediately
  • Anyone with symptoms must never be sent home or left unattended without a medical evaluation
  • HR/Safety to follow-up for employees evaluated for heat illness
access to water
Access to Water
  • Access to sufficient amounts of cool drinking water shall be available at all times.
  • Recommend consuming at least four cups per hour for the entire shift.
access to shade
Access to Shade
  • A shaded rest area shall be provided as close as practicable to the work area.
    • Refer to your departments local procedures for accessing shade
  • As needed, take frequent cool-down breaks in the provided shade.
work planning and supervision
Work Planning and Supervision
  • Assess conditions
    • Weather forecasts -
    • Current weather -

* Note: high humidity drives up the heat load

  • For warmer periods:
    • Schedule outdoor work during cooler parts of the day
    • For most strenuous tasks, plan a staff rotation
work planning and supervision1
Work Planning and Supervision
  • Worker acclimatization
    • People adapt to outdoor temperature increases within 4-14 days. To minimize the risk of heat illness:
      • Adjust work schedules and intensities during a two-week period
      • New employees or those returning from extended leaves – acclimatization is especially important
        • May not be adapted to local weather or work intensity
        • Be extra vigilant with these employees
work planning and supervision2
Work Planning and Supervision
  • For outdoor temperatures ≥85°F, supervisors shall ensure:
    • Shade is present for employee rest breaks.
      • When a worker has brief periods of outdoor work without nearby shade, the employee shall be instructed on how he/ she will be able to quickly access shade as needed for heat illness prevention
      • If it is not safe or feasible to provide shade, document why the shade cannot be provided and what steps will be taken to provide shade upon request or an alternative cooling measure with equivalent protection.
    • Staff are reminded throughout the day to drink plenty of water and to take cool-down breaks in the shade (when they feel the need to do so)
    • Effective means for employees to contact the supervisor and emergency services
    • Regular monitoring of employees for alertness and signs/symptoms of heat illness
    • Close supervision of new employees
written procedures
Written Procedures
  • The minimal procedures are listed below. (Required for Construction only)
  • These steps detail how your personnel will locally:
    • Provide supervisor and employee training
    • Provide access to water & shade
    • Monitor employees and report signs/symptoms of heat illness
    • Respond to heat illnesses without delay, provide first aid and emergency services.
    • Provide clear and precise directions to the worksite.
  • Train all supervisors and employees on these procedures.
    • Document training
  • Maintain the procedures on-site or close to the site, so that it can be made available to representatives OSHA upon request.
summary of supervisor responsibilities
Summary of Supervisor Responsibilities
  • Obtain heat illness prevention training
  • Be aware of your staff’s heat stress potential
  • Develop and train staff on written local heat illness prevention procedures
  • Provide access to water and shade
  • Plan and manage work activities accordingly to reduce the risk of heat stress
  • Be able to recognize any warning signs of heat illness
    • Promptly respond to symptoms of heat illness!
for additional information
For Additional Information
  • Visit these websites for more information on Heat Illness: