National Preparedness Month is recognized each September to promote family and community disaster planning now and throughout the year. This month, the Office of Resiliency will provide resources for all members of the Case Western Reserve University community to better prepare for a wide range of emergencies. This week, the office is sharing guidance related to heat-related illness.
Both outdoor and indoor workers who are exposed to occupational heat stress (the combination of heat from environmental factors, metabolic heat, clothing and personal protective equipment) may be at risk for heat-related illnesses and injuries. Heat-related illnesses may include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat rashes and rhabdomyolysis. Injuries with heat as a factor may also occur, such as falls when someone becomes dizzy, slips on sweat puddles on floors and fogged-up safety glasses. As temperatures and events like heat waves increasingly become a concern, more workplaces may be affected, and it will be important to create a protective workplace heat-illness prevention program.
Heat-illness prevention programs should include elements for monitoring weather and assessing the environmental heat at the worksite(s), an acclimatization plan for new and returning workers, engineering controls (such as, shade structures, ventilation, reflective barriers), appropriate hydration resources, work/rest schedules, emergency plans and training for supervisors and workers. Employers should provide training to workers so they understand what heat stress is and contributing risk factors, symptoms of heat-related illness and first aid, and what steps can be taken to reduce risk. A number of resources are available on the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Heat Stress website, including:
To access the latest resources, webinars and events on heat across collaborating Federal partners, visit heat.gov.
The risks of heat-related illness can occur in any weather, indoors and out, and supervisors and workers alike need to watch for the early warning signs. From heat cramps and exhaustion to heat stroke, help make sure you and your workforce are prepared to stay safe in extreme heat.
The Council’s Injury Facts website shares that in 2021, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported 201 people died and 67 were injured in the U.S. from weather-related excessive heat. It is important to watch out for the most vulnerable populations, including those who work in the heat, older adults and infants and young children—especially if left in hot cars.