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Ten Tips to Stay Cool:
  1. Hydrate. Water is arguably the best hydrating beverage, but it’s tasteless and boring. Enter the electrolytic beverages: Gatorade, Squincher, etc. Even a slice of lemon will add some taste to a cooler.
  2. Avoid designer beverages (Red Bull etc.) because they offer minimal hydration. And avoid carbonated sodas and sugary concoctions.
  3. Select your lunch carefully. Junk food is high in fat and preservative, and it’s going to put a high caloric load on your digestive system. In high heat, that will stress the body.
  4. Pay attention to Circadian Rhythms. Eating a light lunch can help minimize the afternoon slump. Conversely, bulking up at lunch can make it more pronounced.
  5. Schedule for cooler work. In extreme heat (ninety degrees and above), consider rescheduling to work in cooler parts of the day. Can this job be done at night ?
  6. Bring shade. Whenever possible, configure work in shaded areas, and use canopies or umbrellas to avoid direct sun exposures, even if only for intermittent protection.
  7. Check with your uniform supplier. Shirts should be lighter color to reflect sun, and fabric should contain as much cotton as possible.
  8. Keep an eye on one another, and be alert for signs of heat exhaustion. They need to know that strange behavior may be a sign of heat-related illness and to take some early steps to intervene. Early symptoms include lethargy, disorientation, stumbling, dropping tools, slurred speech or unresponsiveness.
  9. Know basic first aid for heat exposure includes having the person lie down in the shade or a cooler area with feet elevated above the heart. This allows blood to flow to the brain more easily and decreases cardio loading. Remove work boots. Get some fans going to lower body temperature and provide evaporative cooling. In case of unconsciousness, call 911.
  10. Know the usual progression of heat illness, It starts with heat exhaustion to heat cramps followed by heat stroke. Heat stroke can be deadly for some folks, such as people who are already dehydrated. It’s also avoidable if we manage the hot weather as well as the rest of our jobs.
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OSHA's Instructions to  Avoid Heat Stress

Many people are exposed to heat on the job, in both indoor and outdoor heat environments. Operations involving high air temperatures, radiant heat sources (e.g., sunlight, hot exhaust), high humidity, direct physical contact with hot objects, or strenuous physical activities have a high potential for causing heat-related illness.

Indoor workplaces with hot conditions may include iron and steel foundries, brick-firing and ceramic plants, glass products facilities, electrical utilities (particularly boiler rooms), bakeries, commercial kitchens, laundries, chemical plants, material handling and distribution warehouses, and many other environments.

Outdoor workplaces with work in hot weather and direct sun, such as farm work, construction, oil and gas well operations, landscaping, emergency response operations, and hazardous waste site activities, also increase the risk of heat-related illness in exposed workers.

Every year, many workers become sick from occupational heat exposure, and some are fatally injured These illnesses and fatalities are preventable.

When a person works in a hot environment, the body must get rid of excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature. It does this mainly through circulating blood to the skin and through sweating.

When the air temperature is close to or warmer than normal body temperature, cooling of the body becomes more difficult. Blood circulated to the skin cannot lose its heat. Sweating then becomes the main way the body cools off. But sweating is effective only if the humidity level is low enough to allow evaporation, and if the fluids and salts that are lost are adequately replaced.

If the body cannot get rid of excess heat, it will store it. When this happens, the body's core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. As the body continues to store heat, the person begins to lose concentration and has difficulty focusing on a task, may become irritable or sick, and often loses the desire to drink. The next stage is most often fainting and even death if the person is not cooled down.

Excessive exposure to heat can cause a range of heat-related illnesses, from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke can result in death and requires immediate medical attention.

Exposure to heat can also increase the risk of injuries because of sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, dizziness, and burns from hot surfaces or steam.

Workers exposed to hot indoor environments or hot and humid conditions outdoors are at risk of heat-related illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky or non-breathable protective clothing and equipment. Some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions, or if they have certain health conditions. The table below shows some environmental and job-specific factors that increase the risk of heat-related illness.

Factors That Put Workers at Greater Risk

Environmental
  • High temperature and humidity
  • Radiant heat sources
  • Contact with hot objects
  • Direct sun exposure (with no shade)
  • Limited air movement (no breeze, wind or ventilation)
Job-Specific
  • Physical exertion
  • Use of bulky or non-breathable protective clothing and equipment

Workers who are suddenly exposed to working in a hot environment face additional, but generally avoidable hazards to their safety and health. New workers and those returning from time away are especially vulnerable. That's why it is important to prepare for the heat: educate workers about the dangers of heat, and acclimatize workers by gradually increasing the workload or providing more frequent breaks to help new workers and those returning to a job after time away build up a tolerance for hot conditions.



Heat Index Risk Level Protective Measures
Less than 91°F Lower (Caution) Basic heat safety and planning
91°F to 103°F Moderate Implement precautions and heighten awareness
103°F to 115°F High Additional precautions to protect workers
Greater than 115°F Very High to Extreme Triggers even more aggressive protective measures
  • The temperature rises
  • Humidity increases
  • The sun gets stronger
  • There is no air movement
  • No controls are in place to reduce the impacts of equipment that radiates heat
  • Protective clothing or gear is worn
  • Work is strenuous

The heat index, which takes both temperature and humidity into account, is a useful tool for outdoor workers and employers (see Using the Heat Index: A Guide for Employers).

Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) is the most accurate tool to measure heat hazards for outdoor workers. It takes temperature, humidity, wind speed, and radiant heat into account. The OSHA Technical Manual Heat Stress Chapter provides WBGT information and calculations, and the National Weather Service provides a prototype WBGT location tool and work/rest recommendations.

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