Acclimatization helps protect outdoor workers from heat illness
The Department of Labor and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have teamed up again to prevent heat-related deaths and illnesses. Heat-related injuries and fatalities in outdoor workers continue with record-breaking heat waves over the last three summers. In 2012 alone, at least 31 workers died of heat related illness and 4,120 more were made sick.
In a June 19, 2014 call with meteorologists and weather reporters across the country, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels and NOAA's Deputy Undersecretary Vice Admiral Michael S. Devany discussed the dangers.
|"Workers who are most at risk for heat-related illnesses are those who are new to outdoor jobs."|
"Every year, dozens of workers are killed by heat, and thousands more experience heat-related illnesses," said Michaels. "We have found that the workers who are most at risk for heat-related illnesses are those who are new to outdoor jobs – especially temporary workers – or those that have returned from more than a week away. Workers are particularly at risk if the weather has just gotten hot, and they have not been acclimatized to the heat."
Seasonal workers can be considered new even if they have been working every season for several years. Gradually increasing the workload and giving workers time to acclimate allows them to build tolerance to the heat. This is critically important for workers who are new to working outdoors in the heat, who have been away from working in the heat for a week or more, or at the beginning of a heat wave. Visit OSHA's Heat Illness Prevention page for more information and to get OSHA's free Heat Safety Tool smartphone app, which has been downloaded more than 138,000 time to date. To order quantities of OSHA's heat illness educational materials in English or Spanish, call OSHA's Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999.