Millions of workers in the United States are exposed to various hazards during the Summer months, including exposure to extreme heat, high humidity, inclement weather, insects, bees, snakes, and poisonous plants. Employers must ensure workers receive the proper training to understand the risks associated with these hazards in their work environment. Workers must manage and protect themselves from illness, injury, or death.

Discussion Points:
• How do you stay safe while working in the heat?
• Why is summer safety important?
• What are some summer safety tips?
• Most heat-related illnesses and injuries are preventable;
• OSHA offers free work-related publications that can be downloaded.

Employers should develop a separate Summer Hazards Training and Preparation Program that includes policies and procedures customized to the company operations, location, employees, and job responsibilities. This program should be presented during the new employee orientation and reviewed during a safety meeting before summer begins. Supervisors must identify hazards and modify schedules, rest breaks, and employee work duties as necessary. Hazard identification involves recognizing potential risks and illnesses as a result of exposure to high temperatures and humidity, vigorous work demands, and personal risk factors.

Engineering and work practice controls should be established and implemented. Engineering controls may include the use of reflective or heat-absorbing shields or barriers to reduce temperature and humidity in the work environment. Work practice controls should include monitoring weather conditions and the use of a buddy system. OSHA offers free work-related publications that can be downloaded from the Publications page on their website or ordered from the publications office at 202-693-1888. More information can be found on OSHA’s heat illness webpage, the websites of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Identification tools include OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool; the National Weather Service Heat Index, and a Wet Bulb Globe Thermometer. Many heat-related illnesses and fatalities are preventable with proper training and information provided by the employer and OSHA.

OSHA says:
“Hot summer months pose special hazards for outdoor workers who must protect themselves against heat, sun exposure, and other hazards. Employers and employees should know the potential hazards it their workplaces and how to manage them.”

As always, be safe out there!