When Work is Too Hot to Handle

Too Hot Even though a good part of the country is facing rain storms and tornadoes, temperatures in the West are reaching up into the 90's, and it's not to soon to start worrying about how you're going to beat the heat at work. The Department of Labor is launching a whole campaign to help both employers and employees keep their cool.

After all, heat stroke killed more than 30 people on the job last year, and thousands more outdoor workers suffer from heat illness, which often manifests as heat exhaustion, every summer. If not quickly addressed, heat exhaustion can become lethal.

"If you're working outdoors, you're at risk for heat-related illnesses that can cause serious medical problems and even death," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "But heat illness can be prevented. This Labor Department campaign will reach across the country with a very simple message -- water, rest and shade."

Heat can be a real danger for workers in jobs ranging from agriculture and landscaping to construction, road repair, airport baggage handling and even car sales. Managers are encouraged to make sure those they oversee are protected.

Likewise, coaches and outdoor recreation leaders need to make sure that their charges are not out in the sun too long. Far too many athletes suffer from heat-related illnesses, dehydration and worse each year.

"As we move into the summer months, it is very important for workers and employers to take the steps necessary to stay safe in extreme heat," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "Drinking water often, taking breaks and limiting time in the heat are simple, effective ways to prevent heat illness."

There's a new web page providing information and resources on heat illness -- including how to prevent it and what to do in case of an emergency -- for workers and employers, available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html.

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