With Hurricane Preparedness Week having ended yesterday, we head directly into Extreme Heat Week.

heat_tipsSummers can be hot and dry in the Northern Hemisphere, and with recent climate changes we have been experiencing heat waves throughout the US nearly every year.

Extreme Heat is a Killer. While affecting older adults and young children most commonly, it affects all and often outdoor workers most dramatically.

Employers and employees must all consider the dangers of working in the head, from Dehydration, to Sunburn, to illnesses and injuries including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and more.

OSHA gives some guidelines,, definitions, and a matrix they call the heat index to help:

Outdoor workers include any workers who spend a substantial portion of the shift outdoors. Examples include construction workers, agricultural workers, baggage handlers, electrical power transmission and control workers, and landscaping and yard maintenance workers. These workers are at risk of heat-related illness when the heat index is high. Additional risk factors are listed below. These must be taken into consideration even when the heat index is lower.

  • Work in direct sunlight - adds up to 15 degrees to the heat index.
  • Perform prolonged or strenuous work
  • Wear heavy protective clothing or impermeable suits
Heat Index Risk Level Protective Measures
Less than 91°F Lower (Caution) Basic heat safety and planning
91°F to 103°F Moderate Implement precautions and heighten awareness
103°F to 115°F High Additional precautions to protect workers
Greater than 115°F Very High to Extreme Triggers even more aggressive protective measures