With much of the nation sweltering under record high temperatures, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis reminded employers that outdoor workers are vulnerable to heat-related illnesses, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

“Employers must take the precautions needed to protect outdoor workers,” she said.

Among Solis’ recommendations:

  • Have a work site plan to prevent heat-related illnesses and make sure that medical services are available to respond to an emergency should one occur.
  • Provide plenty of water at the job site and remind workers to drink small amounts of water frequently - every 15 minutes.
  • Schedule rest breaks throughout the work shift and provide shaded or air conditioned rest areas near the work site.
  • Let new workers get used to the extreme heat, gradually increasing the work load over a week.
  • When possible, schedule heavy tasks for earlier in the day.

"Tell workers what to look for to spot the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke in themselves and their co-workers, and make sure they know what to do in an emergency,” Solis said. "Remember: water, rest, shade - the three keys to preventing heat-related illnesses in this extreme heat."

OSHA has posted educational materials about heat-related illnesses, including a curriculum for workplace training, at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html. Video and audio public service announcements can be downloaded at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/mediaresources.html. All of the materials are available in English and Spanish.