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Should Employers Sweat the Summer Heat

July 20, 1999
Related Topics: Workplace Violence, Ergonomics and Facilities, Safety and Workplace Violence, Featured Article
You bet! A summertime workplace check-up is order. Outdoor workers aren't the only ones at risk when temperatures rise. Work areas in which employees wear protective clothing or hot environments such as bakeries or laundries need to be part of your warm weather review, too.

When temperature soar, the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) urges employers to take these precautions to minimize the risk of heat stress:

  • Provide plenty of drinking water—as much as a quart per worker per hour—to help reduce the risk of heat disorders;
  • Use general ventilation and good spot cooling at points of high heat production;
  • Train first-aid workers to recognize and treat the signs of heat stress, which can be fatal;
  • Consider a worker’s physical condition when determining fitness to work in hot environments;
  • Acclimate workers to the heat through short exposures followed by longer periods of work. New employees and workers returning from an absence of two weeks or more should have five-day period of acclimatization. Start with half the normal workload and time exposure the first day and gradually build up to 100 percent;
  • Alternate work and rest periods, with longer rest periods in a cooler area;
  • Consider that certain medical conditions, medical treatments, and medications increase the risk from heat exposure; and
  • Monitor temperatures, humidity, and workers’ responses to heat at least hourly.

Source: CCH Incorporated is a leading provider of information and software for human resources, legal, accounting, health care and small business professionals. CCH offers human resource management, payroll, employment, benefits, and worker safety products and publications in print, CD, online and via the Internet. For more information and other updates on the latest HR news, check our Web site at

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion.

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