Worker Heat Safety Tips and Resources

Many people are exposed to heat on the job, outdoors or in hot indoor environments. Operations involving high air temperatures, radiant heat sources, high humidity, direct physical contact with hot objects, or strenuous physical activities have a high potential for causing heat-related illness.

Every year, dozens of workers die and thousands more become ill while working in extreme heat or humid conditions. More than 40 percent of heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry, but workers in every field are susceptible. There are a range of heat illnesses and they can affect anyone, regardless of age or physical condition.

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OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool

Take precautions against outdoor heat while at work with the OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool. Featuring real-time heat index and hourly forecasts, specific to your location, as well as occupational safety and health recommendations from OSHA and NIOSH. The OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool is a useful resource for planning outdoor work activities based on how hot it feels throughout the day.  Android | iPhone

Employer Responsibility to Protect Workers

Under OSHA law, employers are responsible for providing workplaces free of known safety hazards. This includes protecting workers from extreme heat. An employer with workers exposed to high temperatures should establish a complete heat illness prevention program.

  • Provide workers with water, rest and shade.
  • Allow new or returning workers to gradually increase workloads and take more frequent breaks as they acclimatize, or build a tolerance for working in the heat.
  • Plan for emergencies and train workers on prevention.
  • Monitor workers for signs of illness.

Types of Workplaces Affected by Extreme Heat

Workplaces with extreme heat conditions may include:  iron and steel foundries, nonferrous foundries, brick-firing and ceramic plants, glass products facilities, rubber products factories, electrical utilities (particularly boiler rooms), bakeries, confectioneries, commercial kitchens, laundries, food canneries, chemical plants, mining sites, smelters, and steam tunnels.

Outdoor operations conducted in hot weather and direct sun include:  farm work, construction, oil and gas well operations, asbestos removal, landscaping, emergency response operations, and hazardous waste site activities, also increase the risk of heat-related illness in exposed workers.

OSHA Heat Safety Resources

OSHA’s Occupational Exposure to Heat page explains what employers can do to keep workers safe and what workers need to know – including factors for heat illness, adapting to working in indoor and outdoor heat, protecting workers, recognizing symptoms, and first aid training. The page also includes resources for specific industries and OSHA workplace standards. Also look for heat illness educational and training materials on OSHA’s Publications page.

Heat Safety:  Industry-Specific Resources

Agriculture
Baggage Screeners
Construction
Emergency Response and Cleanup
Foundries
  • White Paper: Establishing a Foundry Heat Stress Management Program. OSHA and American Foundry Society (AFS) Alliance, (December 2008). AFS developed, “White Paper: Establishing a Foundry Heat Stress Management Program.” The White Paper is designed to provide foundry industry employers and employees with information that can help control the potential hazards of heat stress.
Health Care
Military
Oil and Gas