OSHA News Release: [05/22/2014]
Contact Name: Ann Mangold or Jesse Lawder
Phone Number: (202) 693-4679 or x4659
Email: Mangold.Ann.R or Lawder.Jesse
Release Number: 14-0929-NAT
Annual summer campaign to prevent heat-related illnesses
launched by US Labor Department
“Water. Rest. Shade.” and acclimatization are critical in preventing heat illness and fatalities
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced the launch of its annual Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers. For the fourth consecutive year, OSHA’s campaign aims to raise awareness and educate workers and employers about the dangers of working in hot weather and provide resources and guidance to address these hazards. Workers at particular risk are those in outdoor industries, such as agriculture, construction, landscaping and transportation.
“Heat-related illnesses can be fatal, and employers are responsible for keeping workers safe,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Employers can take a few easy steps to save lives, including scheduling frequent water breaks, providing shade and allowing ample time to rest.”
Thousands of employees become sick each year and many die from working in the heat. In 2012, there were 31 heat-related worker deaths and 4,120 heat-related worker illnesses. Labor-intensive activities in hot weather can raise body temperatures beyond the level that normally can be cooled by sweating. Heat illness initially may manifest as heat rash or heat cramps, but can quickly escalate to heat exhaustion and then heat stroke if simple preventative measures are not followed. Heat illness disproportionately affects those who have not built up a tolerance to heat (acclimatization), and it is especially dangerous for new and temporary workers.
“Acclimatization is a physical change that the body undergoes to build tolerance to heat, and it is a critical part of preventing heat illnesses and fatalities,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “Over the past three years, lack of acclimatization was the cause in 74 percent of heat-related citations issued. Employers have a responsibility to provide workplaces that are safe from recognized hazards, including outdoor heat.”
Last year, OSHA issued 11 heat-related citations. In some of these cases, the employer and staffing agency were cited because they involved temporary workers.
In preparation for the summer season, OSHA has developed heat illness educational materials in English and Spanish, as well as a curriculum to be used for workplace training, also available in both English and Spanish. Additionally, a Web page provides information and resources on heat illness — including how to prevent it and what to do in case of an emergency — for workers and employers. The page is available at: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html.
OSHA also has released a free application for mobile devices that enables workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites. The app displays a risk level for workers based on the heat index, as well as reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that risk level. Since its 2011 launch, more than 130,000 users have downloaded the app. Available for Android-based platforms and the iPhone, the app can be downloaded in English and Spanish by visiting:
In developing its inaugural national campaign in 2011, federal OSHA worked closely with the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration and adapted materials from that state’s successful campaign. Additionally, OSHA is partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to incorporate worker safety precautions when heat alerts are issued across the nation. NOAA also will include pertinent worker safety information on its heat watch Web page at http://www.noaawatch.gov/themes/heat.php.
Fact Sheets / Posters / Training Material
To order any of the following documents, visit OSHA’s Publications page. Clicking “order now” will place the item in a virtual cart on the right hand side of the screen. To order multiple copies, please call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
Outreach Wallet Card
Two-sided business card with message on one side and heat illness symptoms on the other. QR Code links to OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Website to access more materials.
Can be kept in wallet to use in event of an emergency and great to hand out at worksites.
App calculates heat index for current location and provides guidance to prevent illness.
Additional Resources for Workers and Employers
OSHA Fact Sheet: Protecting Workers from the Effects of Heat Fact Sheet (PDF*)
OSHA-NIOSH Heat Illness Info Sheet: Protecting Workers from Heat Illness (PDF*)
OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page: Occupational Heat Exposure
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Fast Facts: Protecting Yourself From Heat Stress (2010, April)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic: Heat Stress
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Extreme Heat
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service Heat Index
Cal/OSHA Webpage: California Campaign to Protect Outdoor Workers From Heat Illness***
Cal/OSHA, Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) Webpage: Heat Illness Prevention***
Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention eTool***
Oregon OSHA’s Quick Facts for Employees (PDF) (English and Spanish)
Washington State Department of Labor and Industries Webpage: Outdoor Heat Exposure (OHE, Heat Stress)***
National Council on Prevention of Skin Cancer’s ‘Don’t Fry Day’ Information
**These resources were adapted from California OSHA’s heat campaign materials.
***NOTE: California and Washington state have their own heat illness prevention standards; these materials reflect the requirements in those standards.