Monthly Safety Blast – Heat Safety

If you employ workers on your agricultural, logging, or fishing operation, then you have most likely encountered the ongoing labor shortage that is taking place in the U.S. Perhaps now more than ever, it is important to incorporate safety into the workplace in order to keep the workers that you do have, safe and healthy. Every year, dozens of workers die and thousands more become ill while working in extreme heat or humid conditions. There are a range of heat illnesses and they can affect anyone, regardless of age or physical condition. 1 Extreme heat can send someone into cardiac arrest and damage vital organs, and people living with comorbidities, like heart disease or diabetes, are even more vulnerable to fatality.2 Can you afford to lose a worker to something as preventable as heat illness?

Heat-related fatalities have occurred with a heat index below 80°F, particularly when aggravating factors like performing heavy strenuous work without easy access to water or shade, or working in direct sunlight. are present. 3

So before the summer heat wave sets in, it is important to know how you and your workers can beat the heat and prevent heat illness.


It is important to note that there are varying levels of heat-related illness. Sweating may seem like a normal response to working in the heat but excessive sweating could be heat exhaustion. Similarly, a worker could complain of nausea and blame it on what he ate for lunch but it could also be a sign of a heat stroke which can be fatal.

These types of heat illness rank from most to least dangerous. Note that heat cramps may seem mild, but ignoring this sign of heat illness may worsen your symptoms.


To prevent heat-related illness and death, ensure that workers:

  • Are allowed water breaks every 15 minutes
  • Rest in the shade or air conditioning to cool down
  • Wear a hat and light-colored clothing
  • Know heat-illness signs and symptoms
  • Report symptoms early, and watch out for coworkers
  • Know what to do in an emergency
  • Gradually build up their heat tolerance using an acclimatization process

An app developed by the OSHA, allows workers and supervisors to calculate the heat index for their worksite, and, based on the heat index, displays a risk level to outdoor workers. Download here.