Tag Archives: heat stroke

Cal/OSHA Urges Employers with Outdoor Workers to Prepare for Heat Season Now

Summer heat safety patchCal/OSHA is urging employers with outdoor workers to prepare for high heat now. According to the National Climatic Data Center, 2014 was the hottest calendar year on record since 1895 in California, and the Center has already recorded similarly record-breaking temperatures over the last two months. Preparation is essential to prevent heat illness which can include headaches, fatigue, excessive sweating and muscle cramps in the early stages, and can rapidly progress to mental confusion, vomiting, fainting, seizures and death.

“Employers must ensure they take the steps necessary to protect outdoor workers, especially during times of high heat,” said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations. Cal/OSHA is a division within DIR.

Employers are required to take the following minimum, basic steps:

• Train all employees and supervisors about heat illness prevention.

• Provide employees with enough cool, fresh water to drink at least 1 quart per hour, and encourage them to do so.

• Provide access to shaded areas, and encourage employees to take rest breaks of at least 5 minutes – before they feel any sickness.

• Develop and implement written procedures – in English and other languages as necessary – for complying with Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention Standard.

“California has the most extensive heat illness prevention requirements in the country,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “The goal is to ensure that outdoor workers are not risking their health.

” Employers must also take special protective measures when temperatures reach 95 degrees or above. Supervisors must:


The Heat is On … for Safety Planning

screen shot of OSHA Heat app
Click graphic to download app


As the weather warms up, employers also need to make sure their safety plans and trainings reflect appropriate issues for their climate, especially if they have employees who work outdoors or may be traveling on the job.


Sunlight contains harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can cause cancer. Melanoma, or skin cancer, is a common yet preventable form of cancer that can be deadly if left untreated. Encourage your employees to have all suspicious moles, skin patches and sores checked out by a dermatologist.

Sunscreen should be used year round, not just in summer. However, it is especially important for your employees to apply sunscreen when outside more in warmer weather. Sunscreen should be applied to all exposed skin. People frequently forget to apply sunscreen to areas such as ears and backs of hands.

Choose a sunscreen with a broad spectrum protection factor (SPF) value of 30 or higher. No sunscreen is completely waterproof so it should be frequently reapplied, especially when sweating or getting wet. Make sure that the expiration date has not passed so that the active ingredients are still effective.

Avoiding UV Rays

Besides sunscreen, OSHA has the following tips to block out UV rays:

Cover up. Wear tightly-woven clothing that blocks out light.

Wear a hat. A wide brim hat (not a baseball cap) is ideal because it protects the neck, ears, eyes, forehead, nose and scalp.

Wear UV-absorbent shades.

Limit exposure. UV rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

OSHA has a free downloadable card with practical tips for guarding against UV radiation and skin cancer called “Protecting Yourself in the Sun” available at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3166/osha3166.html

FULL STORY: http://www.workerscompensation.com/compnewsnetwork/workers-comp-blogwire/18873-safety-planning-for-warmer-weather.html

Cal/OSHA Launches 2014 Heat Illness Prevention Campaign

CalOSHA Heat Safety Awareness logo

 Cal/OSHA launched the 2014 Heat Illness Prevention Program to educate employers and workers on the risks of prolonged heat exposure at outdoor worksites. The annual kickoff was held at a bilingual training sponsored by Cal/OSHA, the Nisei Farmers League and other agricultural employers. The goal of the program is to reduce the incidence of heat illness statewide and ensure compliance with California’s heat illness standard.

“Our partnerships with business and labor help us educate workers and employers alike on how to prevent heat illness injuries at outdoor worksites,” said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). “Regular training is a key component of workplace safety.” Cal/OSHA, also known as the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) is a division of DIR.

Employing a multi-faceted approach, Cal/OSHA uses enforcement, outreach and training modules to educate workers and employers of the health hazards that high temperatures present.

“Employers at outdoor worksites must know the steps to take to prevent heat illness injuries on the job,” said Acting Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Cal/OSHA continues to focus on training and outreach, combined with enforcement targeted on those employers who put their workers’ safety at risk.”

Targeted inspections of outdoor worksites in industries such as agriculture, construction, and landscaping will be conducted throughout the heat season.

Employers at outdoor worksites are required to ensure that basic precautions are followed:

  •  Train all employees and supervisors about heat illness prevention.
  •  Provide plenty of cool, fresh water and encourage employees to hydrate frequently.
  •  Provide a shaded area for workers to take a cool down and recovery break.
  •  Ensure that workers “acclimatize” by gradually adjusting their bodies to high heat. This is especially important for new workers and during heat waves as temperatures may surge suddenly.

A Primer on Working in the Heat

the heat is on graphic
Summer often supplies the best weather to be outdoors. It’s also the busiest time of year for many outdoor industries, from construction to agriculture to hospitality. Though these workplaces are often very pleasant in nice weather, it’s important to recognize that sun and heat exposure can be hazardous without the proper precautions.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), thousands of workers require treatment for heat exposure each year, with some incidences serious enough to cause death.

“Ideally, heat exposure should be limited during the peak midday hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.,” said Randy Klatt, Safety Management Consultant from workers’ compensation insurance specialist MEMIC. “For many workers, though, outdoor tasks are unavoidable in that stretch of time. By taking some simple precautions and staying mindful of your body’s reactions to the temperature, many heat-related sicknesses, like heat stroke, dehydration, and sunburn, can be avoided.”

Keep yourself safe with these five tips to avoid heat stress on the job.

• Plan your day accordingly. Though limiting direct sun is almost always preferable, there are ways to plan your day effectively when exposure is necessary. Schedule more strenuous work in the morning and late afternoon when it’s cooler. If possible, secure a shady spot nearby your work zone to take breaks. Klatt suggests at least a few minutes out of the sun each hour.

• Wear the right gear. If such equipment is safe in your workplace environment, try to wear hot-weather friendly clothing. Light colored, breathable fabrics and hats that shade your face and neck will help to keep you comfortable under the sun’s rays. Eye damage is a concern, too – make sure your pair of sunglasses filters at least 90 percent of ultraviolet (UV) rays.

• Apply sunscreen early and often. The benefits of regular sunscreen use are well-documented, but studies continue to show that adults often don’t wear enough, if they wear it at all. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen (protecting against UV-A and UV-B rays) with an SPF of at least 15. Apply liberally 30 minutes before going outside, and every two hours thereafter.

• Stay hydrated. The more we sweat, the more important it is to replace the fluids our body has lost. Water is perfectly acceptable for short periods outside, but for longer stretches, you may want to consider replenishing your electrolytes with a sports drink. The Center for Disease Control recommends approximately one cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Alcohol (of course), caffeine, and sugary drinks are not recommended, as they tend to dehydrate your body.

• Assess how you’re feeling on a regular basis. Take the time to rest in the shade for a few minutes every hour and monitor yourself for signs of overexposure and dehydration. If you’re feeling dizzy, nauseated, or extremely fatigued, it’s likely a sign that your body needs a break from heat exposure. Muscle pain or spasms may indicate dehydration or low salt levels. Don’t ignore these warning signals. Overextending yourself can be a serious health risk.

In the event of heat-related sickness, sit or lie down in a cool spot as soon as possible. Drink plenty of fluids and loosen or remove any heavy or tight clothing you may have on. The amount of time your body takes to rehydrate varies depending on the severity of your heat exposure, but you may require anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours. Be careful not to rush yourself. In the event of acute heat sickness like heat stroke – often identified with dizziness, slurred speech, and very hot, dry skin, among other symptoms – call 911 or seek emergency medical treatment immediately. These episodes can lead to death.

Working in the summer heat can become a little more bearable with the proper precautions. By remaining responsive to your environment, outfitting yourself with proper equipment, and taking breaks when your body requires them, you can create the groundwork for a productive and safe day in the sun. Continue reading A Primer on Working in the Heat

Heat Safety Tool [App] in English & Spanish

graphic of Heat Safety Tool app from OSHAHEAT SAFETY TOOL  [En español]download button for Android app By U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

When you’re working in the heat, safety comes first. With the OSHA Heat Safety Tool, you have vital safety information available whenever and wherever you need it – right on your mobile phone.

The App 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 button for iPhone app

Then, with a simple “click,” you can get reminders about the protective measures that should be taken at that risk level to protect workers from heat-related illness-reminders about drinkingenough fluids, scheduling rest breaks, planning for and knowing what to do in an emergency, adjusting work operations,

gradually building up the workload for new workers, training on heat illness signs and symptoms, and monitoring each other for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.

Stay informed and safe in the heat, check your risk level. Graphic for Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers

For more information about safety while working in the heat, see OSHA’s heat illness webpage, including new online guidance about using the heat index to protect workers.

The source code for this app is available for download:
• Android: English [9 MB ZIP*] | Spanish [6 MB ZIP*]
• iPhone: All-in-One [1 MB ZIP*]

Accessibility Assistance: Contact the OSHA Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance with accessing the application or ZIP materials.


Cal/OSHA Reminds Employers of Heat Illness Risks

Summer heat safety patchThe heatwave is headline news today here on the Central Coast, so it never hurts to have a handy list of the risks faced by  those who work in the heat.

By WorkersCompensation.com 3

Cal/OSHA reminds all employers with outdoor workers to protect their workers as temperatures are expected to reach record levels, rising to the triple digits in both Northern and Southern California over the next six days.

“With temperatures expected to be from 10-20 degrees above average across the entire state through July 2nd, workers and employers alike are reminded to take extra precautions. Rest, water and shade are absolutely essential in high heat conditions,” said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). Cal/OSHA is a division of DIR.

“Cal/OSHA will be out in force throughout the state, reviewing outdoor worksites to ensure that employers are following heat illness prevention regulations,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Ellen Widess. “Employers should be especially aware of the need for workers to be acclimatized to the very high heat conditions.”

California’s heat regulations require all employers with outdoor workers take basic steps to protect their workers:

• Train all employees and supervisors about heat illness prevention before work begins.

• Provide plenty of cool, fresh water and encourage employees to drink water frequently.

• Provide a readily accessible shaded area for workers to take a cool down recovery break, and provide rest breaks when workers request them.

• Ensure that workers are given enough time to adjust, or “acclimatize” to the heat. This is especially important for new workers and for all workers during a sudden heat wave. This step can mean the difference between life and death.

• Prepare an emergency heat illness prevention plan for the worksite, with training for supervisors and workers on the steps to take if a worker shows signs or symptoms of heat illness.

Special “High Heat” procedures are also required when temperatures reach 95 degrees – supervisors must take extra precautions:

• Observe workers for signs and symptoms of heat illness.

• Remind workers to drink water frequently.

• Provide close supervision of workers in the first 14 days of their employment (to ensure acclimatization).

• Have effective communication systems in place to be able to summon emergency assistance if necessary.

• Ensure effective emergency procedures are in place in case workers become ill.

• Employers may want to adjust work schedules to avoid the peak heat times of the day. In all cases, employers need to be extremely vigilant.

Visit Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness web page or the Water. Rest. Shade. campaign site for online information on the heat illness prevention requirements, training materials in multiple languages, and bilingual training sessions for employers and workers. A Heat Illness Prevention e-tool is available on Cal/OSHA’s website, and more information can be found on DIR’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Program provides free and voluntary assistance to employers and employee organizations to improve their health and safety programs. For assistance from the Cal/OSHA Consultation Program, employers can call (800) 963-9424.

Employees with workplace safety questions or complaints, including heat illness, can contact the Cal/OSHA district office in their region to file a confidential report. Recorded messages in English and Spanish detailing resources for California workers are also available toll free at 1-866-924-9757.

For media inquiries, contact Erika Monterroza at (510) 286-1164 or Peter Melton at (510) 286-7046.

New App Helps Keep Workers Safer in Hot Weather

Smart Phone App Helps Keep Workers Safe During Hot Weather
By WorkersCompensation.com 02/08/2012 11:55:00

hot app for smart phones to protect workers from heat related illnessFor construction and agricultural workers as well as others who work outside, high temperatures can pose a significant health risk. Now employees have a new tool in the box—or app on the phone—to keep them safer on the job.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created a Heat Safety Tool that provides safety information on a mobile phone. Using the app, workers and supervisors can calculate the heat index for their worksite.

“Whether you are harvesting blueberries or paving a road, working outdoors can pose a dange  when the temperature soars, especially for people not used to being out in hot weather,” Commissioner of Labor Robert Winglass said. “This app is a simple way to keep an eye on both the temperature and worker safety.”

The heat index, a measurement of air temperature in relation to relative humidity, was developed based on studies of skin cooling through the evaporation of sweat. It indicates what the temperature “feels like,” and rises when there is high humidity in addition to high air temperatures.

In  areas where truly hot periods spike less frequently people are often unused to the higher temperatures, so extra precautions are warranted.

Based on the heat index, the heat safety app displays a message for people working outdoors. It also provides reminders for the precautions that should be taken at certain risk levels. These protective measures include drinking enough fluids, scheduling rest breaks, and adjusting work operations. The app also provides information on heat illness signs and symptoms and guides supervisors and workers on how to build the workload up gradually for new workers and how employees should monitor each other for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.

The new app is also useful for people to choose to do yard work or play or exercise outdoors during periods of high temperatures.

The app is available for iPhone and Android phones, in either English or Spanish versions, here: www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heatindex/heatapp.html.


Heat Illness Training is Front Burner in CA

A heat index chart

Heat Illness Prevention in Agriculture Gets Focus in California

Cal/OSHA, the Nisei Farmers League, and 23 other agricultural organizations are teaming up for this years “Heat Illness Prevention in Agriculture” training events.
The free sessions began recently in Fresno, Calif., and will continue throughout the spring and summer at locations across the state. The goal is to reduce heat- related fatalities and gain a greater level of compliance in the agriculture community through training programs for growers, farm labor contractors, and supervisors.
The training will provide information about employers responsibilities under Californias Heat Illness Prevention Standard and will explain changes made to the regulation last August that are now in effect.
Cal/OSHA said its outreach, education, and enforcement have led to a measurable increase in the number of employers who are complying with the regulations, up from 35 percent in 2006, to 76 percent in 2010. As a result, heat- related deaths have declined from 12 in 2005 to two last year.
John Duncan, director of the Department of Industrial Relations, which oversees Cal/OSHA, said the heat illness prevention outreach effort is one of the most successful safety education efforts in Cal/OSHAs history.
It is clear that our heat illness training and enforcement efforts are saving lives and resulting in increased compliance among employers,” Duncan said. “Our efforts thus far have laid the groundwork to carry this training initiative forward and to expand this type of collaboration into other industries. These efforts will continue until we reach everyone who works out in the fields, on construction sites, anywhere out in the elements.”
Cal/OSHA and its partners in agriculture conducted more than two dozen heat illness prevention training seminars in California last year. Some 1,600 agriculture employers and supervisors attended the training events that are held in both English and Spanish. Those employers passed the information on to an estimated 400,000 workers.
Every year since we have been offering this training, we find more farm supervisors and labor contractors complying with heat illness regulations. More employers are giving the provision to workers of water, shade, and training the full attention it needs,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Len Welsh. “There is no doubt this outreach effort is having a positive impact, but we still have work to do in order to reach our goal of making worker safety and health have the prominence in workplace culture that we all want to see.”
In 2005, California became the first state to develop a safety and health regulation to protect workers from heat illness.

Virtual Health Care May Be Better Than In-Office Visits

Doctor's hand reaching out of computer holding a stethoscopeA five-year study of HIV patients found a telehealth system, including a virtual pharmacy and community forums, to be as effective as in-office visits to the doctor. The study could mean increased virtual health care and cheaper medical costs around the world, especially for high-maintenance chronic illnesses such as HIV.

From autonomous robotic surgeries to advanced computerized diagnoses, many recent technological breakthroughs have benefited the medical industry and the patients it serves. Now, results from a five-year study have revealed an exciting conclusion: Virtual check-ups can be just as effective as, if not more than, in-office visits to the doctor.

In the study, a group of Barcelona-based physicians successfully treated 200 HIV patients via an online home care system called “Virtual Hospital.” The technology covers all aspects of managing the health of chronic HIV-infected patients, who require frequent and careful care. This month, PLoS One published the results, which found telehealth to be as effective as in-office visits.

Continue reading Virtual Health Care May Be Better Than In-Office Visits

To Lose Weight & Prevent Stroke … Talk to Your Doctor Over Coffee


Back when smoking topped the list of America’s health woes, researchers found that smokers who had a brief conversation with a doctor — just a three minute chat that addressed their habit — were significantly more likely to quit.

Now the nation is smoking less, but a whopping two-thirds of Americans are overweight. Can doctors help patients shed weight, the way they have helped them kick cigarettes? A couple of recent papers suggest the answer is yes.

In one study, obese patients whose doctors talked to them about their weight did a better job at preventing further weight gain. In the other, patients who were told they were overweight by their physicians were more likely to want to do something about it.

However, fewer than half of overweight people and fewer than two-thirds of obese people in the second study had been told by their physicians that they wereoverweight.

“Physicians need to tell more overweight and obese patients that they are overweight,” the authors of the second study say. “This may help encourage them to change their behavior to lose weight and lower their risk for many diseases.”

So why aren’t more physicians talking to their patients about weight?

We asked Dr. David Katz, the founding director of Yale University Prevention Research Center, who told Shots some doctors feel it just isn’t their place. They aren’t confident in obesity treatments, aren’t trained to counsel patients about weight loss, and aren’t paid do so. And they’re afraid of offending patients.

“Doctors saying, ‘don’t you realize your fat and its bad for your health,’ is about as constructive as putting pins in a voodoo doll,” Katz said. “Sometimes I joke that if you make your patient feel one foot tall, and they are already overweight, their body mass index goes through the roof.”

To be constructive, doctors have to choose their words carefully. “Patients really feel that words like ‘fat’ and ‘obesity’ can be negative,” Dr. Rebecca Puhl of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity told us. “Neutral terms like ‘body mass index’ or even ‘body weight’ are better.”

There’s one way to bring up the problem without fear of offense. “Blame it on the government,” Dr. Robert Baron, who directs the UCSF Weight Management Program, told us only half jokingly. “Say, ‘Your body mass index puts you in a range the federal government would call overweight.'”

Comparing patients to standardized definitions brings obesity into the realm of less stigmatized risk factors, such as high blood pressure.

Still, Baron stressed that weight loss may not be the answer for everyone. “We live in a society with all the wrong food choices, and all the wrong messages telling us to do all the wrong things,” agreed Katz. “This problem is not a clinical one, but I think clinicians need to be a small part of the solution.”


DALLAS – Women who enjoy a daily dose of coffee may like this perk: It might lower their risk of stroke.

Women in a Swedish study who drank at least a cup of coffee every day had a 22 to 25 percent lower risk of stroke, compared to those who drank less coffee or none at all.

“Coffee drinkers should rejoice,” said Dr. Sharonne N. Hayes, a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “Coffee is often made out to be potentially bad for your heart. There really hasn’t been any study that convincingly said coffee is bad.”

“If you are drinking coffee now, you may be doing some good and you are likely not doing harm,” she added.

But Hayes and other doctors say the study shouldn’t send non-coffee drinkers running to their local coffee shop. The study doesn’t prove that coffee lowers stroke risk, only that coffee drinkers tend to have a lower stroke risk.

“These sorts of epidemiological studies are compelling but they don’t prove cause,” said Dr. David S. Seres, director of medical nutrition at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York.

The findings were published online Thursday in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

Scientists have been studying coffee for years, trying to determine its risks and benefits. The Swedish researchers led by Susanna Larsson at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm said previous studies on coffee consumption and strokes have had conflicting findings.

“There hasn’t been a consistent message come out,” of coffee studies, said Dr. Cathy Sila, a stroke neurologist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.

For the observational study, researchers followed 34,670 Swedish women, ages 49 to 83, for about 10 years. The women were asked how much coffee they drank at the start of the study. The researchers checked hospital records to find out how many of the women later had strokes.

There were a total of 1,680 strokes, including 205 in those who drank less than a cup or none. Researchers adjusted for differences between the groups that affect stroke risk, such as smoking, weight, high blood pressure and diabetes, and still saw a lower stroke risk among coffee drinkers. Larsson said the benefit was seen whether the women drank a cup or several daily.

“You don’t need to drink so much. One or two cups a day is enough,” she said.

Larsson, who in another study found a link between coffee drinking in Finnish men who smoked and decreased stroke risk, said more research needs to be done to figure out why coffee may be cutting stroke risk. It could be reducing inflammation and improving insulin sensitivity, she said, or it could be the antioxidants in coffee.

Larsson and others point out that those who want to reduce their chances of a stroke should focus on the proven ways to lower risk: Don’t smoke. Keep blood pressure in check. Maintain a healthy weight.