Every year, thousands of workers across the country suffer from serious heat-related illnesses. If not quickly addressed, heat exhaustion can become heat stroke, which has killed - on average - more than 30 workers annually since 2003. Labor-intensive activities in hot weather can raise body temperatures beyond the level that normally can be cooled by sweating. Heat illness initially may manifest as heat rash or heat cramps. It quickly can become heat exhaustion and then heat stroke if simple prevention steps are not followed.
This "stand-down" is intended for all those who work in hot weather, such as workers in agriculture, construction, baggage handling, roofing and landscaping, and others who work outdoors. It is the employer's responsibility to protect workers from injury and illness.
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.
What can I do to protect myself?
Avoid heavy exertion, extreme heat, sun exposure, and high humidity when possible. When these cannot be avoided, some of the preventative steps that can be taken include:
- Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing such as cotton.
- Schedule heavy work during the coolest parts of day.
- Take more breaks when doing heavier work, and in high heat and humidity; take breaks in the shade or a cool area.
- Drink water frequently.
- Be aware that protective clothing or personal protective equipment may increase the risk of heat-related illnesses.