Heat Stress: What does OSHA say?!
Safety Consultant with Sheldon Primus
Heat Stress: What does OSHA say?!
July 19, 2023
In this episode, Sheldon goes over the heat stress OSHA compliance letter. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides comprehensive guidance on preventing heat stress in the workplace. Their guidance aims to protect workers from the potentially dangerous effects of excessive heat exposure. OSHA's heat stress guidance emphasizes the importance of recognizing and preventing heat-related illnesses in the workplace. It highlights the significance of acclimatization, which allows the body to gradually adjust to working in hot conditions. OSHA recommends employers to implement heat acclimatization programs, especially for workers who are new to hot environments or returning after an absence. The guidance emphasizes the provision of water, rest, and shade to workers as key preventive measures. Employers are encouraged to provide cool and readily accessible drinking water and encourage workers to stay hydrated. They should also establish work-rest schedules that allow employees to take frequent breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas. The guidance further advises employers to modify work practices to reduce heat exposure, such as rescheduling strenuous tasks to cooler times of the day and using mechanized equipment to minimize physical exertion in high temperatures. OSHA's heat stress guidance also focuses on raising awareness among employers and workers about the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses. It highlights the importance of training workers and supervisors to recognize the early warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which include dizziness, headache, fatigue, confusion, and loss of consciousness. Employers are encouraged to establish a heat illness prevention program that includes procedures for responding to heat-related emergencies. The guidance stresses the need for prompt medical attention in case of suspected heat-related illnesses and provides recommendations for first aid treatment until medical help arrives. OSHA also emphasizes the importance of monitoring workers for signs of heat stress and encouraging workers to report any symptoms promptly. Additionally, the guidance provides resources for assessing heat stress hazards in different industries and offers guidance specific to outdoor, indoor, and industrial environments. Overall, OSHA's heat stress guidance provides a comprehensive framework for employers to protect workers from the risks associated with excessive heat exposure. By implementing the recommended measures and promoting awareness, employers can create safer and healthier working environments, reducing the incidence of heat-related illnesses and ensuring the well-being of their workforce. Listen to this episode for more on how to protect your workers from extreme heat.
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Keywords: OSHA, Heat Stress, Working in Hot Conditions, Arizona Heat Wave, Death Valley temperatures, US heatwave, Global warming, climate change, heat related illness, exposure control plan

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[00:00:05] Announcer: This episode is powered by Safety FM. 

[00:00:13] Sheldon Primus: Welcome to the Safety Consultant podcast. I'm your host, Sheldon Primus. It's the podcast where I teach you the business of being a safety consultant. We talk about safety and health needs, concerns, things that are going to help us advance our business and stuff. We talk about marketing for your safety consulting business. We do talks with guests like we had my last episode with Ms. Dee Arp from NEBOSH. I love me some Dee. She is so cool. Anyway, welcome everybody. I love me some you too. You guys are cool. Thank you for listening. So, while I've got you here and I like doing this. Uh I'm gonna, oh, I can't forget this,  hold on, let me, let me jot this down. I need to uh to let you guys know something that just happened, like just, just happened uh within a couple weeks ago. So there's a, a podcast site called feedspot.com. And uh they basically, there is a database for uh podcasters and they uh have a way to track uh who is listening what and what genre and all that. So it's pretty cool. So here's the cooler part: if you were to go to podcasts, with an S, feedspot dot com, forward slash construction underscore safety underscore podcasts. 

So again, podcasts.feedspot.com/construction_safety_podcasts, with an S “podcasts”, and what you will find when you get there is, I am literally the number one podcast for construction safety on Feedspot. That is awesome. So I am um just very, very, very excited about that one, and I just really want to thank everybody for, for helping me out to get me into that number one spot. It's like, um. I'm really happy. So thank you everybody, that's been like a wonderful, wonderful uh accomplishment for me and uh thank you all for listening and sharing it with friends and uh the comments. I've been getting some comments. So, thank you so much. 

Let's tell you, well, a few other things, let's see uh on Apple Podcast. I'm ranked 102 in South Korea, thank you. In Saudi Arabia, I am 74. In Apple Podcast for Chile, I am number 32. Wow. Number 31 in Senegal. Thank you so much. I'm so humbled for you guys. Uh So I really appreciate you guys listening and everywhere you guys are, I know uh I am US-based, but I do have a global mindset and I just thank you guys. So if you want to reach out to this show the best way to get me would be sheldon@sheldonprimus.com. Uh I told you guys a long time ago that I broke my website and I was teaching the people who are in safetyconsultant.TV, uh that's the uh membership program that I have. And what I do on Safety Consultant TV is I basically show, step by step, uh my business as well as I help you with your business and have some interviews and a few other things. So what I was doing on Safety Consultant TV is showing them how to fix my broken uh website so that they could uh the members could use it for themselves. And being a membe,. I have also offered them a free wordpress theme that I have uh that I have extra use uh licenses. And so I just give that to my safetyconsultant.TV, um members. So just go ahead and look that up, become a member today and you could watch me rebuild my website. But just to reach out to me, you could go to sheldon@sheldonprimus.com. And also if you were to uh look me up on uh safetyconsultantpodcast.com, there's a mic button on there, just hit the mic button and you can leave me a voicemail if you don't want to send an email. Some people prefer just letting their voice be heard. So I'm ok with that. So just leave me a voicemail, go to safetyconsultantpodcast.com and you can leave me a voice message just for the show, right? 
So I am back! That one just cracked me up. I'm gonna give you guys a whole bunch of these now. I've got a, I just kind of like downloaded a bunch of them so I, I don't want it to be boring. They just crack me up. All right, I have got to, uh I don't know, I guess one of the things that I, I have to do is work on my focus. My focus needs more focus. So I am gonna have to like uh stop playing around because my focus definitely needs more focus. Stop laughing at me. 

Alright, so today's episode, let's uh give you guys a hint. I was really kind of tossed about what to do and since we're like in a stifling heat bubble in, you know, the whole earth right now. Uh I am doing this in July of 2023 and you know, Arizona's had so many days with 110 plus Fahrenheit. Um uh I'm not sure what that is in Celsius, but um it's been Hot. Death Valley in California is pushing all time high records ever recorded. Uh So it's been pretty hot. I know, uh you guys in the UK are starting to get it again and hitting towards the east. Um But it's, it's hot. So, uh I am going to not just talk about heat stress though, but I'm gonna talk to you about how to manage your workplace with heat stress and that's gonna be coming from the OSHA website as well. So if you go to OSHA dot gov, and then you're gonna do forward slash heat and then it's gonna be hyphen exposure, so OSHA.gov/heat-exposure. So they actually have a full guidance for working in the heat for outdoor and indoor. Uh So I'm gonna just really briefly give you guys kind of like a rundown of the site and what this will do is then give you the opportunity to go back and use, pick and choose what you need for your company uh so that you yourself can prepare your workers for this um like just nightmare. It's been really, really bad. Um I am not too sure what's happening obviously with uh uh. Well, we all know it's, hold on. We all know what's happening. It's a little thing called global warming, right? Uh Just if you look at the actual history of mankind and the temperature and everything and now with warm waters now, like in Florida, it's literally 98 degrees Fahrenheit and warm weather in the water. So where you gonna go to really get some relief? So yes, we know where it's coming from, but for the workplace setting, uh we need to adjust, right? So here, in the OSHA website, they tell you a few things. It starts off and, uh, once you get there, you're gonna look at the left side and again, you know, our rules. And our rules is this, there is no driving and doing this. You're doing this when you go home. 

Epic fail.

You've got to wait until you get home. So, what you're doing now, like our rules, you're gonna listen to the episode now, when you get back, you're gonna relisten and then when you're at a safe place to get on a computer, uh you're gonna go ahead and follow those links I gave you. All right so planning and supervising, and supervision is the first area that OSHA touches. So it gives a nice guide as to how to uh supervise workers uh having a heat illness prevention plan, uh where you could uh plan out what you're gonna do day-to-day with your workers. Uh Usually it's gonna end up, let's start earlier in the day. Have a period in the hottest part of the day that we're gonna be doing restful things or working in shade or something similar, if possible. That um, so when I say “if possible”, sometimes it may not be shady but you could provide some shade area uh for your workers to get that sun off their head and back and everything else. And the uh that's gonna be what's called an administrative control. So your administrative control is gonna take care of uh making sure that you will have a work role to protect your workers. Uh But there are some engineering controls. Obviously, you got fans and AC, uh you do have uh some areas where you could have uh specific buildings, especially bathrooms with AC, uh those porta potties may not be good anymore uh for the work site, but that costs money. So you're gonna have to negotiate that part with your higher ups and say, “hey, the money that it costs to remove these porta potties to put in AC restrooms, uh, portable obviously trailers, uh is gonna be more, but the results will be, the workers will be have some relief, they're gonna work better, and you're not gonna have people who are gonna be missing days.” Absenteeism is a big thing now. 

[00:11:20] Sheldon Primus: All right. So the next thing, uh, supervisors you're supposed to do this. So let me tell you, at least on the OSHA website, they say for day to day supervision, here's the things for planning. Identify and control heat hazards, recognize early symptoms of heat stress, administer first aid for heat related illness, and activate emergency medical service quickly when needed. So that is going to be the day to day planning for supervisors. 

Next going down. OSHA talks about heat related illness and first aid, it gives you a few things to look for. Uh, then they talk about prevention and prevention is usually small steps, but you're gonna have to be butted up against production. So it's gonna be a full organizational effort. Everybody's gonna have to chip in and when I say everybody that means you have to plan your, your job better. Uh you'll have to know exactly uh when uh the workers are gonna be exposed, so to the heat, so that means you're gonna be looking at temperatures in the areas you're working in and there's some planning, some controlling you have to do. So you gotta take extra precautions to protect new workers, and that planning is slightly different. You gotta acclimate those workers a little bit of the time, even though you want the production from them, they're not ready to work in the heat yet. You're setting them up for failure. So you're gonna not you, but the people that are gonna push you to not acclimate new workers, you gotta explain to them what's gonna happen. So the new workers are gonna get in there, they're gonna try to perform like everyone else to prove their worth and they're gonna push themselves. Once they do that, with the extreme heat, that's gonna lead to a heat stress situation. They're not gonna want to stop because they're gonna want to feel weak or they don't want to drink because they don't want to go to the bathroom and have time off of the job because they're drinking too much, that's gonna be going through their mind. So you gotta correct that and tell the foremans, because they're the key in this, the foremans are the ones who are gonna be monitoring this. So you're gonna have to tell those foremans to give the new guys a break and give them a plan of acclimization for them that your chief executive signs off on. If possible, some of you may not have that access to the chief executive, you may only have access to the foreman. So you're gonna give them the plan of saying here are your new hires, here's the time of day or here's the time frame that we're gonna have the new workers work and slowly increase their load. Uh Usually it's over a two week period until they could work with their full load in the heat. Uh You gotta train your supervisors and the workers to really recognize the heat stress signs and then, uh, if the heat index is telling you it's too hot, you gotta listen to that heat index in some way. It doesn't mean it's not working. It just means that you're gonna end up having to adjust how you're working. So it's a full organizational effort. But then the very basics is you gotta have some rest, some shade and some fluids. So, uh we're talking like really good water. Uh We're not talking fluids as in uh anything that is going to be coffee or anything that will dehydrate people. So we're not talking about that. Alright? And, uh, if someone goes out, you're not gonna be like slapping them or anything, you're gonna help them. Put them into the shade. Uh, and if they're unconscious, you're not gonna force feed them any water because that can be even worse. But you wanna get them cool. Uh, if someone is, he could, they didn't faint, you can see their eyes, if their eyes are constricted versus dilated, constricted as the small pupils, dilated as the big pupils. Uh, if they're dilated, big pupil, then you're in the heat exhaustion phase, uh, that you could help them out. But if it's the really small pupils, constricted, then that is a medical emergency. They gotta get some help really quick and they won't be sweating anymore because there's just nothing left. Uh, and the body temperature will be really hot. So those are what you're gonna be basics that you're gonna be training your supervisors to, to look out for. 

All right, we need to hurry up and level up. I told you guys, I got a bunch of these. That one cracks me up. All right. So let me round this up for you guys. So there's no OSHA standard to follow. This is one of those that would be a 5A1 violation and it's a very pricey 5A1 violation. So, uh, this one, I can't give you a standard number or anything to follow, but, uh, there is a National Emphasis program and that's the best thing to follow. So you want to go to the OSHA website for heat stress and you'll be able to see the National Emphasis Program there, or under um the OSHA enforcement, it's gonna be your NEP, National Emphasis Program, and you wanna look for heat stress. So that is gonna be found at OSHA.gov/enforcement/directives/NEP. So that's the direct URL to get to it. But it's easier to just go to the OSHA website, OSHA dot gov and in the search box type in NEP, those three letters. And once you do, you're gonna see the listing of all the National Emphasis Program directives and what those are is the way that the compliance officers are trained to do their, um their actual client, well their visits, if you would. To show them the procedure that you have to follow and what to look for and it trains them. So that way it'll train you in the right way of the, you know, as a safety officer as a safety consultant. All right, gang?

All right, those are the last two. No, probably not the last two. No, I am done with this episode. You guys have been so awesome. Thank you so much for everything that you've done. And I truly, and I just mean that because I'm looking at the numbers going up. So that means you must be liking it, must be sharing it, and you must be uh talking to your buddies and saying dude's crazy, you gotta check him out! Guy from the US, awesome! Helping us out. And you guys in the US and Canada, thank you so much as well. Go get ‘em.

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The views and opinions expressed on this podcast or broadcast are those of the host and its guest and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the company. Examples of analysis discussed within the past hour are only examples they should not be utilized in the real world as the only solution available as they are based on very limited and dated open-source information, assumptions made within this analysis are not reflective of the position of the company. No part of this podcast or broadcast may be reproduced, stored within a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means mechanical, electronic recording or otherwise without prior written permission of the creator of the podcast or broadcast Sheldon Primus.