OSHA app, resources aim to protect farmers, workers from heat risks

OSHA app, resources aim to protect farmers, workers from heat risks

OSHA and National Weather Service collaborate on heat awareness campaign targeting farmers, ranchers and outdoor workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Wednesday said it is continuing a summer-long campaign with the National Weather Service to promote heat safety and awareness among farmers, ranchers and outdoor workers.

According to OSHA, thousands of workers suffer the effects of heat exposure each year, with about 100 reported fatalities since 2008 because of heat.

Workers at the greatest risk of heat stress are those employed outdoors when temperatures climb, but also in danger are people working in hot indoor environments, OSHA said.

OSHA and National Weather Service collaborate on heat awareness campaign targeting farmers, ranchers and outdoor workers (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Targeted groups include firefighters, bakery workers, farmers, ranchers, construction workers, factory workers and more. The risk of heat stress increases for workers who are 65 years of age or older, are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure, or take medications.

According to Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels, other at-risk workers are new hires who aren't aware of how their bodies may react to working in the heat, as well as workers who are not acclimated to working in the heat due to cooler spring temperatures or time off during a heat wave.

App updates
For the campaign, OSHA updated its Heat Safety Tool phone app, which allows workers and supervisors to calculate the heat index at their worksite, and, based on the heat index, displays a risk level to outdoor workers. The app is available for iPhone and Android mobile phones.

The OSHA Heat Safety Tool App

OSHA says the app also will help workers recognize signs of heat stress and provide information for workers on how to mitigate effects of heat illness. Part of the campaign includes stressing the importance of water, rest and shade, officials said Wednesday.

Related:

OSHA recommends that workers drink water every 15 minutes, even if not thirsty; rest in the shade; wear a hat and light-colored clothing; learn what to do in a heat stress emergency; recognize signs of stress in other workers; and work at a relaxed pace during the first few days of working in the heat.

The heat safety campaign is an ongoing effort; since 2011 when it was first introduced, more than 10.7 million people were reached by the campaign's messaging and half a million fact sheets, posters and other materials have been distributed.

The National Weather Service also has participated in the campaign since 2011, sharing heat-related warnings and including worker safety information on all NWS extreme heat alerts and NOAA's Heat Watch page.

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