Workplace

OSHA reminds employers to protect workers as summer heat settles in KC area

The first of Kansas City’s summertime heat is settling in the next few days and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is reminding employers to protect workers from extreme heat while working outdoors or in hot indoor environments.

The Kansas City area is expected to see the heat index climb near or above 100 degrees Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“Employers can take a few easy steps to prevent heat illness including scheduling frequent water breaks, allowing ample time to rest and providing shade,” Kimberly Stille, OSHA’s Regional Administrator in Kansas City, said in a release Thursday.

Each year, thousands of workers suffer the effects of heat exposure. In some cases, the workers have died, according to OSHA. In Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, there were 13 hospitalizations and seven deaths associated with heat exposures between Oct. 1, 2014, and April 28, 2017.

A majority of recent heat-related deaths involve workers on the job for less than four days. This highlights the need for employers to ensure that new workers become acclimated to the heat when starting or returning to a job, OSHA said.

OSHA had these tips for those working outside or in hot environments inside:

▪ Drink water every 15 minutes even if not thirsty.

▪ Rest in shaded areas to cool down.

▪ Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.

▪ Learn how to recognize symptoms of heat illness and what to do in emergency.

▪ Keep an eye on co-workers.

▪ Take it easy your first days working in the heat to become acclimated to it.

Workers in hot indoor environments such as firefighters, bakers, factory and boiler room workers also are at risk when the temperature rises, OSHA said.

OSHA provides heat safety tips in its blog, its Twitter account and an updated heat campaign website. To help spread the reminder of heat safety, OSHA is using the hashtag #WaterRestShade for its campaign. OSHA also has a heat safety phone app that’s available for iPhones and Android smartphones.

Robert A. Cronkleton: 816-234-4261, @cronkb

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