Heat Wave A Hazard For Outdoor Workers

Jul 16, 2013

The U.S Occupational Safety and Health Administration is reminding Ohioans who work outdoors to take precautions during this week's heat wave.

OSHA says dozens of workers are killed in the U.S. each year by heat related illnesses. OSHA's Doctor David Michaels has a few tips.

DM:  Water - rest - shade.  If outdoor workers take these precautions, it can mean the difference between life and death.

Michaels says most outdoor workers who die of heat related illnesses are in their first week on the job and have not had time to adjust to the conditions. Michaels says OSHA is working with companies to train their outdoor employees on how to stay safe in the heat. Cleveland Clinic Physican Tom Tallman says the first signs of heat related illnesses are dizziness, nausea and vomiting. And Tallman says high humidity also poses a danger to outdoor workers and the general public.

TT:  Any time the... relative humidity is predicted to be  60 percent or greater, that's the humidity where you're gonna sweat  and it just isn't gonna cool you off.  In other words you're gonna sweat greater than the air can absorp it.

Like OSHA's Michaels, Tallman recommends water and shade or indoor air conditioning to fight heat related illness.

TT:  Like, in the emergency department, we might bring in somebody and put them in an area where we can turn a fan on them, and spray them with water. Then you've got evaporation and convection helping to cool the body off.  

Doctor Louis Uccellini, director of the National Weather Service, says more extreme heat is expected this summer, and workers and employers should prepare.

LU: Heat is a silent killer, unlike such hazards as damaging winds or flooding.  Many people often don't even recognize they are in trouble until the need medical assistance.

High temperatures in central Ohio all of this week are expected in the lower 90s, with heat indices topping 100.