In 2000, 21 workers died and 2,554 others experienced heat-related occupational injuries and illnesses serious enough to miss work, according to OSHA. Now the agency has prepared a quick reference Heat Stress Card offering tips like these:

  • Train all workers to recognize and treat the signs of heat stress. Be sure all workers know who has been trained to provide first aid. Also train supervisors to detect early signs of heat-related illness and permit workers to interrupt their work if they become extremely uncomfortable.

  • Consider a worker's physical condition when determining fitness to work in hot environments. Taking certain medications, lack of conditioning, obesity, pregnancy and inadequate rest can increase susceptibility to heat stress.

  • Work in pairs - use the buddy system. They can keep an eye on each other.

  • Help workers adjust to the heat by assigning a lighter workload and longer rest periods for the first five to seven days of intense heat. This process needs to start all over again when a worker returns from vacation or absence from the job.

  • Encourage workers to drink plenty of water - about one cup of cool water every 15 to 20 minutes, even if they are not thirsty - and to avoid alcohol, coffee, tea and caffeinated soft drinks that dehydrate the body.

  • Encourage workers to wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Workers should change their clothes if they get completely saturated.

  • Use general ventilation and spot cooling at points of high heat production. Good airflow increases evaporation and cooling of the skin.

  • Alternate work and rest periods, with rest periods in a cooler area. Shorter, more frequent work-rest cycles are best. Schedule heavy work for cooler times of the day and use appropriate protective clothing.

  • Monitor temperatures, humidity and workers' responses to heat at least hourly.

    OSHA's Heat Stress Card in English or Spanish is available on OSHA's Web site. For copies of the laminated card, available without charge, call OSHA Publications (202) 698-1888 or write to: U.S. Department of Labor/OSHA, OSHA Publications, P.O. Box 37535 Washington, D.C. 20013-7535.

    More information about heat and sun hazards can be found on OSHA's Web site and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)