Heat StressThere are numerous precautions that employers can take against heat stress. Some of them are summarized here:
Training. Train workers and supervisors in how to control heat stress and to recognize symptoms of heat illness.
Monitoring and Adjusting Workloads. Take into account the weather, workload, and condition of the workers, and adjust work practices accordingly. Higher temperatures, high humidity, direct sun, heavy workloads, older workers, and workers unaccustomed to heat are more likely to become ill from heat. Here are things to do:
- Monitor temperature and humidity, and workers' responses at least hourly in hot environments
- Schedule heavy work and PPE-related tasks for the cooler hours of the day
- Acclimatize workers gradually to hot temperatures
- Shorten the length of work periods and increase the length of rest periods
- Give workers shade or cooling during breaks
- Halt work altogether under extreme conditions.
Drinking. Make sure employees drink at least the minimum required amounts of water to replace body fluid lost through sweating. Thirst does not give a good indication of how much water a person needs to drink.
More details on all these measures are included in EPA's "A Guide to Heat Stress in Agriculture," May 1993, available from farm supply companies and from the U.S. Government Printing Office (doc. number 055-000-00474-9). Issued jointly by EPA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Guide offers practical, step-by-step guidance for nontechnical managers on how to set up and operate a heat stress control program.