Heat risks to workers subject of new OSHA program

Heat risks to workers subject of new OSHA program

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A new national OSHA program will inspect businesses for dangers related to heat exposure.

The inspections could be particularly valuable in Las Vegas and other desert communities where workers are susceptible to heat illnesses and injuries — even deaths.

A May 22 news release from the U.S. Department of Labor cites statistics from 2011-2019, saying 344 worker deaths were due to environmental heat exposure. The numbers might understate the problem because other causes of death — heart attacks, for example — can be heat-related.

OSHA — the Occupational Safety and Health Administration — launched the program April 8

“Our goal is to ensure workers are safe in hot indoor and outdoor environments,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Eric Harbin in Dallas.

“In the past several years, OSHA’s heat safety campaign has been intently focused on raising awareness of the related dangers. Our recent national emphasis program is reaching out to unions, employers in target industries and other organizations to protect workers most often exposed to heat illness and injuries,” Harbin said.

OSHA’s message is simple: Water. Rest. Shade.

  • Encourage workers to drink water every 15 minutes.
  • Take frequent rest breaks in the shade to cool down.
  • Have an emergency plan ready to respond when a worker shows signs of heat-related illness.
  • Train workers on the hazards of heat exposure, and how to prevent illness.
  • Allow workers to build a tolerance for working in heat.

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