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In case you missed it, May 31 was Heat Awareness Day and June 2 was Global Heat Action Day. Who knew? This national and global awareness of heat is a function of more frequent extreme heat which can be a health hazard to those who are not careful. To assist the public, the Center For Disease Control and Prevention recently launched a new heat tracking tool called the Heat and Health Index which will help the public learn more about local heat exposure, health related consequences of heat exposure and how people can protect themselves during extreme heat events. For people who work outside, extreme heat can be a real health hazard. So as we approach summer, it’s important to be mindful of employee working conditions for those who work outside or around machinery which emits heat. Heat related illnesses and fatalities are preventable, and the law requires employers to provide safe working environments. Here’s a quick overview:

Factors which put workers at particular risk include:

  • High temperature and humidity
  • Direct sun exposure (with no shade)
  • Indoor exposure to other sources of radiant heat (ovens, furnaces)
  • Limited air movement (no breeze)
  • Low fluid consumption
  • Physical exertion
  • Heavy personal protective clothing and equipment
  • Poor physical condition or health problems
  • Some medications, for example, different kinds of blood pressure pills or antihistamines
  • Pregnancy
  • Lack of recent exposure to hot working
  • Previous heat-related illness
  • Advanced age (65+)

Heat Awareness for Workers (

Employees covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act are entitled to work under safe and healthful conditions. The government has published guidelines to assist employers in understanding their responsibilities and to facilitate their ability to ensure employees are protected from the adverse effects of extreme heat (and, as of July 1, a new law in Florida requires employers to follow state and federal laws as local governments are not permitted to mandate heat protections for outdoor workers). 

Employers with employees who may be subject to hot or humid working conditions should have a heat illness prevention plan. Such a plan should allow for employers to provide cool water, rest breaks and shade or cool rest areas for workers, should provide training for employees on heat illness prevention as well as signs that they or a co-worker may be demonstrating symptoms of heat illness and should educate employees on how to respond to heat illness.

For more information on the steps employers can take to comply with OSHA regulations, please visit:

Let’s make sure the summer is a safe, healthy and productive one for all employees.