Heat Smart: Strategies to Prevent Workplace Heat Illnesses

Property & Casualty, Risk

The Employer Group (TEG) has been creatively solving payroll, human resources, and benefits administration challenges for clients for over 25 years. TEG, M3’s wholly-owned subsidiary, offers customized solutions to organizations of all sizes and industries, ranging from serving as a PEO (Professional Employer Organization) to providing full payroll services and a wide array of human resources administration and consulting.

With the summer heat quickly approaching, it’s important for employers to provide safe and suitable working conditions for their employees. There are a range of heat illnesses, and they can affect anyone, regardless of age or physical condition. These illnesses can cause long-term damage, so it’s important to protect every worker frequently exposed to extreme heat and humidity.

OSHA’s Role

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is crucial in protecting workers from heat-related hazards by setting and enforcing safety standards. Though there are no specific heat stress regulations, employers are obligated under the General Duty Clause to ensure a safe working environment. OSHA’s initiatives aim to prevent serious heat-related illnesses and deaths in both indoor and outdoor extreme heat conditions.

Understanding Heat Exposure
Occupational heat exposure depends on various factors, including internal activity and external sources. Management should consider all contributors to body temperature increase to identify heat hazards in the workplace.

Employers have a duty to protect workers against heat. At a minimum, employers should provide adequate cool water, rest breaks, and shade or a cool rest area for employees. Other essential steps:

  • Educate staff on symptoms of heat-related illnesses, as early detection will prevent potentially fatal situations among staff.
  • Utilize OSHA’s Heat Safety Tool to determine heat index at your worksite, and understand the risk level for your outdoor workers.

Key Takeaways

With summer heat approaching, employers should review and update their heat illness prevention plans and risk mitigation strategies, including: 

  • Provide workers with shade, rest, and water 
  • Allow workers to build a heat tolerance by gradually increasing workloads 
  • Have an emergency plan and train workers to understand early signs of heat-related illnesses 

Reach out to your M3 client executive or risk manager to discuss your current heat illness prevention plan and what strategies may serve your organization to better protect your employees. 

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