What Every Property Manager NEEDS to Know About Heat Related Illnesses

Property Managers Need to Stay Compliant With OSHA Safety Standards

 

Dogue de bordeaux with The dog days of summer have been with us for too long now. The heat and humidity make most of us uncomfortable and can sometimes threaten our safety, but those people who earn their living outdoors need to be especially cautious this time of year.

Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States. When the body heats too quickly to cool itself or too much fluid or salt is lost through sweating or dehydration, you can suffer from heat exhaustion or Heat stroke.

According to OSHA, there were 2630 documented cases of workers suffering from heat illnesses in 2014 and 18 of them died from heat stroke and related causes on the job. These types of heat illnesses and deaths are preventable if employers make an honest effort to protect workers from excessive heat. While this is the humane thing to do, it is also the law!

It is an Employer’s Responsibility to Protect Employees from Excessive Heat Illnesses

 

OSHA laws require employers to provide workplaces free of known safety hazards and that includes protection from extreme heat.  While some workers build up a tolerance to hot conditions over time, ALL WORKERS are at risk during a heat wave.

Those industries most at risk for heat-related hazards are; construction, builders, grounds maintenance, landscapers, agricultural, transportation, utilities and energy workers.

OSHA suggest that employers do the following in order to protect workers from heat related illness:

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

Signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat StrokeSigns of Heat Exhaustion: Dizziness, Headache, Sweaty Skin, Weakness, Cramps, Nausea, Vomiting, Fast Heart Beat

Signs of Heat Stroke: Red, Hot, Dry Skin – High Temperature, Confusion, Convulsions, Fainting

An employer should make sure that employees are aware of the signs of heat related illnesses, be taught to keep an eye on fellow workers and know what to do in the case of an emergency. Working in full sunlight can increase the heat index by 15 degrees – plan additional precautions for those working in these conditions.

Heat is no joke. It can take a life !

 

This Wilmington, Delaware company was cited on October 1, 2015 for exposing employees to heat stress conditions and for failing to notify OSHA about the hospitalization of an employee. This employee fell ill after working as a mason manually transferring bricks in a peak heat index of 91.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Excessive heat exposure is a serious issue for outdoor workers, especially on humid days. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that controls are in place to prevent illness,” said Erin G. Patterson, OSHA’s area director in Wilmington.

Luckily, OSHA has built a free App that enables employers to monitor the heat index at their work sites.

Here are a few articles that contain some helpful tips:

 

Extreme heat and Preventing Heat-Related Illness

4 Tips to Protect Outdoor Workers From Heat Exposure

Center for Disease: Heat Stress – Recommendations

 


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