OSHA Urges Employers to Combat Heat-related Illnesses
Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels launched the agency’s 2016 heat illness prevention campaign over the summer during a teleconference with stakeholders, reporters, and others. The campaign, which has been a staple for OSHA for several years, raises awareness about the hazards of working in the heat and educates workers and employers about ways to prevent heat-related illness and death of workers exposed to hot and humid conditions. According to the agency, workers in construction; trade, transportation, and utilities; agriculture; building and grounds maintenance; landscaping services; and support activities for oil and gas operations are among those most affected by heat-related illnesses. Those who have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions, such as new workers, temporary workers, and employees returning to work after taking time off, may be at greater risk. In 2015, OSHA received reports of more than 200 workers hospitalized with heat illness, which Michaels described as an “undercount of the actual number.”
“We also know that in this current heat wave, workers are concerned about their safety,” Michaels said. “In fact, we've received a record number of emails, comments and questions regarding heat and worker rights in recent weeks.”
Michaels indicated that this year OSHA is already investigating several worker fatalities that appear to be related to heat. He noted that OSHA’s regional offices are already conducting outreach and education on the dangers of heat, and urged the agency’s partners to use the resources on the heat illness prevention campaign
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