Every employee should know that under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, “employers are responsible for providing workplaces free of known safety and health hazards.” One of those “known safety and health hazards” that may often be overlooked is heat-related hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, oversees the specific regulations and laws related to workplace safety, including those related to high temperatures. OSHA also ensures employers adhere to the legal and ethical obligation to keep employees safe, including when temperatures soar. See the recommendations OSHA offers for employers to protect workers from heat-related hazards like heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
OSHA Recommendations on Heat-Related Hazards
First and foremost, OSHA advises employers to create a heat illness prevention plan. This plan should:
- Identify the heat hazards present in the specific industry and formulate options to mitigate those heat-related hazards.
- Calculate the heat stress of the industry; heat stress is a measurement that takes into account temperature, worker clothing, the level of the workload, and more to calculate the cumulative heat stress on a worker.
- On-board new employees with information concerning the heat-hazard risks of the industry.
- Utilize engineering controls such as air conditioners and fans to lessen heat-related hazards.
- Modify work practices according to the heat, such as working earlier in the day, or later at night, when temperatures are lower.
- Create policies related to providing water, rest, and shade.
Another point that OSHA recommends is for employers to train employees concerning heat related hazards. Such trainings should include:
- Heat exposure risks.
- How to prevent heat-related illnesses.
- How to identify the symptoms of heat-related illnesses, and how to administer first aid.
In job sites where high temperatures are the norm, such as in the paving industry in Florida, it’s important for employers to provide water, rest, and shade. OSHA advises that:
- Employers provide cool water for employees and encourage workers to drink at least eight ounces of water every 20 minutes while working in the heat.
- Employers should provide electrolyte-containing liquids, such as sports drinks, if employees are working in the heat for over two hours.
- Employers should provide workers with breaks that increase in length and frequency as the heat index rises; these breaks should be long enough for employees to recover from the heat.
- Employers should provide an area for employees to rest and cool down, such as shaded areas, inside an air-conditioned area, or in a shade tent with fans and misting devices.
Employees who are not provided a safe working environment, including safety from heat-related hazards, can contact OSHA to report the employer.
At Tucker Paving, safety is always our leading concern on every jobsite! We have almost 30 years of experience in the asphalt and concrete paving industry. We use our experience and expertise for residential, commercial, and municipal clients. Contact us by calling (863) 299-2262, or fill out our contact form online, to let us assist you with your next concrete or asphalt paving project!