CAL/OSHA HEAT ADVISORY
information is from the Cal/OSHA
Heat Advisory issued 8/1/2006 .
When employees work in hot conditions,
employers must take special precautions in order to prevent heat illness.
Heat illness can progress to heat stroke and be fatal, especially when
emergency treatment is delayed. An effective approach to heat illness is
vital to protecting the lives of California workers.
Employers of outdoor workers must comply with the new
permanent heat illness prevention standard. This standard requires
employers to take four simple steps that include shade, water, training and
written procedures. These can greatly reduce the risk of outdoor workers
developing heat illness.
Heat illness results
from a combination of factors, including environmental temperature and
humidity; direct radiant heat from the sun or other sources; air speed; and
workload. Personal factors, such as age; weight; level of fitness; medical
condition; use of medications and alcohol; and acclimatization affect how
well the body deals with excess heat.
ILLNESS RISK REDUCTION
Recognize the Hazard.
There is no absolute cut-off below which work in heat is
not a risk. With heavy work at high relative humidity or if workers are
wearing protective clothing, even work at 70°F can present a risk. In the
relative humidity levels often found in hot areas of California (20 to 40
percent) employers need to take some actions to effectively reduce heat
illness risk when temperatures approach 80°F. At temperatures above 90°F,
especially with heavy work, heat risk reduction needs to be a major
concern. It is especially
important to be vigilant during periods of abnormally high heat.
There must be an adequate supply of clean, cool, potable
water. Employees who are working in the heat need to drink 4 eight-ounce
glasses of water per hour, including at the start of the shift, in order to
replace the water lost to sweat. For an eight-hour day this means employers
must provide two or more gallons per person. Many people can be very
dehydrated and not feel thirsty at all. Employees need ongoing
encouragement to consume adequate water.
3. Shade and Rest Breaks.
Employers are required to provide shade for recovery
periods when employees need relief from the heat. The direct heat of the
sun can add as much as 15 degrees to the heat index. Heat illness occurs
due to a combination of environmental and internal heat that cannot be
adequately dissipated. Rest breaks are important to provide time for
cooling and provide an opportunity to drink water. Breaks should be taken
in cooler, shaded areas. Wide brimmed hats can also decrease the impact of
People need time for their bodies to adjust to working in
heat. This "acclimatization" is particularly important for employees (1)
returning to work after a prolonged absence or recent illness, (2) recently
moving from a cool to a hot climate, or (3) working during the beginning
stages of a heat wave. For heavy work under extremely hot conditions, a
period of 4 to 10 days of progressively increasing work time starting with
about 2 hours work per day, though not required, is recommended. Also
recommended, for less severe conditions at least the first 2 or 3 days of
work in the heat should be limited to 2 to 4 hours. Monitor employees
closely for signs and symptoms of heat illness, particularly when they have
not been working in heat for the last few days or when a heat wave occurs.
Recognizing the symptoms of heat illness and providing an
effective response requires promptly acting on early warning signs. Common
early symptoms and signs of heat illness include headache, muscle cramps,
and unusual fatigue. However, progression to more serious illness can be
rapid and can include unusual behavior, nausea/vomiting, weakness, rapid
pulse, excessive sweating, or hot dry skin, seizures, and fainting or loss
of consciousness. Any of
these symptoms require immediate attention.
Even early symptoms may
indicate serious heat exposure. If first aid trained personnel are not
immediately available on-site to make an assessment and workers show any
abnormal response to the heat, you should call 911 immediately. Regardless
of the worker's protests, no employee with any of the symptoms of possible
serious heat illness noted above should be sent home or left unattended
without medical assessment and authorization.