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Severe Heat Alert Across the NW

Severe Heat Alert Across the NW

When the temperature goes up, heat can make you sick.

The National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Watch for dangerously hot conditions with temperatures in the low 100’s. Extreme heat will significantly Increase the potential for heat related illnesses, particularly for those working or participating in outdoor activities.

Oregon OSHA has many resources for employers.

Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division Department of Consumer and Business Services created a Program directive in 2017 (revised 2019) for preventing heat related illness. Click Here

Heat-related illnesses can happen if workplace activities in a hot environment overwhelm the body’s ability to cool itself. This becomes more likely if any of the risk factors are present. Examples include working in a hot environment without adequate access to water for rehydration, working in protective gear that does not allow air circulation across the skin, or working where the humidity is too high for sweat to evaporate.

Employers should have a Heat Illness Prevention Plan to protect employees from the hazards of hot working environments. Heat Rash, Heat Exhaustion, and Heat Stroke can be a result of working in the severe heat.

Preventing Heat Related Illnesses. OSHA Poster

  • Gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks during the first week of work so that employees become acclimatized to higher temperatures, especially those who are new to working in the heat or have been away from that work for a week or more.
  • Encourage employees to frequently drink small amounts of water before they become thirsty to stay hydrated. During moderate activity, in moderately hot conditions, employees should drink about 8 ounces of liquid every 15 to 20 minutes. Employees can monitor their hydration with a urine chart. Urine should be clear or slightly colored; dark urine is a warning sign! See urine color chart.
  • Encourage employees to eat regular meals and snacks as they provide enough salt and electrolytes to replace those lost through sweating as long as enough water is consumed.
  • Provide a buddy system where employees encourage each other to drink water, use shade to stay cool, and to watch each other for symptoms of heat-related illness.
  • Educate employees that drinking extreme amounts of water can also be harmful (more than 12 quarts in a 24-hour period).
  • Schedule frequent rest periods with water breaks in shaded or air- conditioned recovery areas. Note that air conditioning does not result in loss of heat tolerance.
  • Ensure employees are aware of the signs of heat-related illnesses and encourage them to report immediately they or their co-workers show symptoms.
  • Monitor weather reports daily and reschedule jobs with high heat exposure to cooler times of the day, if possible. Be extra vigilant when air temperatures rise quickly. When possible, schedule routine maintenance and repair projects for the cooler parts of the year.
  • Provide shade or cool areas for breaks

Download the NIOSH Heat Safety Tool App on Apple and Android.

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