Protect Workers in the Dog Days of Summer

The dog days of summer often bring soaring temperatures. Therefore, now is a good time to make sure workers in hot conditions are protected from heat illness, which claims dozens of employee lives every year.

Cal/OSHA has a heat illness prevention regulation that requires employers with outdoor workers to take the following four steps to prevent heat illness:

Plan — Develop and implement an effective written heat illness prevention plan that includes emergency response procedures.

Training — Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.

Water — Provide drinking water that is fresh, pure, suitably cool and free of charge so that each worker can drink at least 1 quart per hour, and encourage workers to do so.

Shade — Provide shade when workers request it or when temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Encourage workers to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least five minutes at a time. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.

Cal/OSHA urges workers experiencing possible overheating to take a preventative cool-down rest in the shade until symptoms are gone. The agency also stresses that workers who have existing health problems or medical conditions that reduce tolerance to heat, such as diabetes, be extra vigilant. Some high blood pressure and anti- inflammatory medications can also increase a worker’s risk for heat illness.