OSHA Sponsors Safety Stand-Down Session for Heat Injuries

OSHA's Safety Stand-Down Sessions raise awareness of Heat-Related Illness and Death.Heat-related illnesses and deaths are a reality that affect many employees in the construction workplace. According the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 2,630 workers suffered from heat illness in 2014, while 18 died from heat stroke and related causes on the job. As a result, OSHA employers and trade associations are conducting a series of one-hour Safety Stand-Down sessions, across eight southern states, aimed at providing safety training for companies which operate in conditions that may be susceptible to heat-related injuries.

The particular focus of these training safety stand-down sessions is to educate employers and employees as to the various indicators for heat-stroke or heat illnesses. These include heat rash or heat cramps along with heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These sessions are set to outline which circumstances may prove susceptible to heat-related injury or death in the construction workplace. One finding, yielded by recent OSHA investigations, showed that the majority of heat-related deaths occurred in individuals who had been on the job for three days or less. Subsequently, one point-of-action in these sessions will be to instruct employers to allow for new employees, or those who have been out of the heat for an extended period of time, to acclimate to the heat when beginning work. Yet another focus of these training sessions will be to teach that particular labor-intensive activities will increase body temperature past the level at which sweating can effectively cool it. Such activities, inherently heat-inducing, can be exacerbated if performed in the sun and must be monitored, accordingly.

Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s regional administrator for the Southeast, said, “People who work outdoors in extreme hot weather – in industries such as agriculture, construction, baggage-handling, roofing and landscaping – must be aware of the dangers. Employers are responsible for protecting workers from illness or injury when temperatures increase. These Safety Stand-Down Sessions seek to educate employers and workers alike. We encourage companies throughout the region to participate.”

Heat-related illness is a serious issue facing employees in the construction workplace. Proper OSHA training is of paramount importance to today’s construction employer.