Cal/OSHA highlights importance of monitoring early signs of heat illness among outdoor workers

Cal/OSHA highlights importance of monitoring early signs of heat illness among outdoor workers Photo: skeeze, Pixabay

Employers are reminded to observe signs of heat illness in outdoor workers toiling in high heat as the National Weather Service is forecasting dangerous heat for much of the Central Valley for the rest of the week.

Some symptoms of overexposure to heat include headache, fatigue, dizziness, confusion, cramps, exhaustion, and fainting.

“Exposure to heat while working outdoors can cause serious illness or death,” said Juliann Sum. Chief of Cal/OSHA.

“It is important for those who work outdoors, especially during heat waves, to know how to protect themselves from heat illness.”

Those who may be experiencing overheating are advised to take a preventative cool-down rest in the shade until symptoms are gone. Workers with existing health problems or medical conditions that reduce tolerance to heat are advised to be extra vigilant.

Cal/OSHA also encourages all workers to stay hydrated. Soda, sports drinks, coffee, energy drinks or iced tea are not recommended for hydration. Alcoholic beverages also contribute to dehydration.

In addition to the basic steps outlined by California’s heat regulation for employers with outdoor workers, heat at or above 95 degrees Fahrenheit requires additional precautions. It is important that workers are actively monitored for early signs of heat illness to help ensure sick workers receive treatment immediately and that the symptoms do not develop into serious illness or death. In case a worker gets sick, his colleagues and supervisors should be trained on the emergency procedures required to ensure that the sick worker receives treatment immediately and serious illness does not develop.

Information on heat illness prevention requirements and training materials are available on Cal/OSHA’s website