Volume No. 65
Heat Related Illnesses
For many people, hot summer days
do not mean sipping lemonade while lounging in a lakeside chair or even
working in an air-conditioned office. To the field hand picking crops
directly under the hot sun or the HVAC mechanic working in a stifling attic,
high temperatures are a deadly concern. Each year in America, an average of
33 workers lose their lives to heat illnesses.
Heat illness is a serious medical
condition resulting from the body’s inability to cope with heat. Human
beings need to maintain their internal body temperature within a very narrow
range of a few degrees above or below 98.2° F. The body loses it’s “heat
balance” when it cannot shed heat at a fast enough rate to keep the body
When the body starts to overheat, more blood
flows to the outer layers of the skin so the heat can be released into the
cooler outside environment. If this process does not cool the body fast
enough, or the outside air is warmer than the skin, the brain triggers
sweating to cool the body. Sweat draws water from the bloodstream and
releases the heat through evaporation. During an hour of heavy work in hot
weather, the body can easily sweat one quart of water.
Heat illness can develop very
rapidly and is not always obvious before it becomes life-threatening. Heat
exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, fatigue, nausea,
vomiting, dizziness, headache, fast and shallow breathing, or a fast and
weak pulse. Skin may appear clammy, pale, cool, and moist. Heatstroke
symptoms include no sweating (indicating that the body can no longer cool
down), mental confusion, convulsions, dizziness, muscle twitching, rapid
and weak pulse, or unconsciousness. Skin may be hot and dry, appearing red,
bluish or mottled. At this stage, the body temperature may reach 104°F or
higher within 10-15 minutes.
If your employees perform
physical tasks in un-airconditioned environments, you should develop
written procedures for preventing heat illness. Designate a specific person
to monitor the weather before and during the workday using
When temperatures are expected to reach 85°F, heat illness procedures should
be enacted. Heat illness procedures should be a mixture of monitoring
weather conditions, providing adequate water and shade, and employee
education. Once temperatures reach 95°F, or a heat spike occurs (an increase
of 9 degrees or more in a day), or high humidity occurs, you must be extra
vigilant in preventing heat illness.
The most important preventive
measure for heat illness is drinking adequate water. When temperatures reach
85 degrees, plan on providing 2 gallons of water per person for each 8-hour
shift, with each employee drinking one quart of water per hour. Beverages
containing sugar or caffeine are not acceptable substitutes because they
increase dehydration. Water should be well stocked and easily accessible and
employees should never feel pressured to drink less in order to conserve the
supply of water. Consider using a whistle or air horn to remind workers to
Educate workers about the importance of drinking
water before signs of heat illness appear. Remind them to continue drinking
water before and after their shift. Muscle cramps from dehydration may not
occur until the end of the day. Encourage employees to eat smaller, more
frequent meals and to choose foods with higher water content, such as fruits
and vegetables. The best way to monitor your hydration level is to observe
the color of your urine. Clear or light yellow urine indicates an adequate
fluid intake. Dark yellow urine indicates dehydration. If workers feel signs
of heat illness, they must tell a supervisor immediately.
Shade is another important factor
in maintaining employee health. In order to be considered adequate, the
shade must block direct sunlight and allow the body to cool. A metal shed
may provide shade, but will probably have a higher temperature than the work
area. It is best to set up the shade in advance, by 5:00 pm the night
before. The amount of shade should accommodate at least 25 percent of
employees and enable them to sit in normal posture without touching one
another. Workers should not sit directly on the ground as this may add more
heat to the body.
Provide blankets, chairs, or
benches for them to sit on. Employees should be encouraged to take a
cool-down rest in the shade for a period of no less than five minutes at a
time. The shaded area should be located as close to the work area as
possible and be accessible at all times. Misting centers and cool vests are
other options for keeping workers cool.
While frequent breaks and working at a slower
pace may extend deadlines, it will keep employees safe and healthy. For more
information and written policies, please visit
In March of 1993, Paul began
working for the Connecticut Department of Labor Occupational Safety and
Health Division (CONN-OSHA) consultation department. During his career he
served both the public and private sector. Prior to coming to CONN-OSHA,
Paul worked for Electric Boat (EB) in Groton. At EB Paul was a welder and
safety specialist. He earned a degree in Safety & Health Human Resources
Management from the University of New Haven.
Paul currently lives in Griswold
with his wife, Dawn, where he was a former member of the town Planning &
Zoning Commission. All of us at CONN-OSHA wish Paul the very best in his
During his years with CONN-OSHA,
Paul worked with many people. The following are quotes from some of his
“I have never met a person with
such great knowledge about industrial settings. He was a great resource of
knowledge without looking anything up. He will be one person very hard to
replace and I wish him well.”
Robinson The Norwalk Vault Company
“I have worked with Paul for
approximately eleven years. During this time I found Paul to be an extremely
knowledgeable and competent OSHA representative. Paul's patience to
carefully explain in detail all aspects of a particular hazard benefited not
just the employer but the employee as well. Paul instilled in me and others
within our Company the need to thoroughly embrace the benefits of safety
which has enabled us to achieve SHARP status in both our Connecticut and
Massachusetts facilities. Paul's hard work during consultations, follow ups
and numerous phone calls has made an everlasting impact on me as well as on
this Company and its Safety Culture.”
John E. Dubrowin
Sanford & Hawley, Inc.
“Paul Hartmann has been a
consultant with our mill for a number of years. His employment with
CONN-OSHA has allowed me not just to work with him but learn some valuable
skills from his vast vault of knowledge and traits. I credit Paul entirely
for inspiring the Uncasville Mill in pursuing and receiving the Occupational
Safety and Health Administrations SHARP designation in 2007. He is a credit
to the occupation of consultant in a program with an organization often
John Deveau, CSM, CSA
OSHA’s Distracted Driving Initiative
By: Michelle Major, M.S.
crashes, which often result from distracted driving practices, are currently
the leading cause of workplace fatalities. In 2009, the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that there were more than
5,000 people killed and an additional 500,000 people injured in motor
vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers.
Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) requires employers to provide workplaces
that are free from recognized hazards, including but not limited to,
practices which require and/or encourage employees to text while driving. If
OSHA receives a credible complaint of an employer that requires texting
while driving or organizes work so that texting is a practical necessity,
the agency will investigate and will issue citations and penalties as
necessary to end this practice.
OSHA, in an
effort to ensure that American workers are safe while traveling on U.S.
roadways, has begun outreach through education and enforcement, to stop the
dangerous practice of texting while driving. OSHA is asking employers to:
Declare vehicles as “text-free zones”.
Establish work procedures and
rules that do not make it necessary for employees to text while driving in
order to carry out their duties.
Set up clear procedures, times,
and places for drivers’ safe use of texting and other technologies for
communicating with managers, customers, and others.
Incorporate safe communication
practices into employee orientation and training.
Eliminate financial and other incentive
systems that encourage workers to text while driving. Employers should also
consider establishing written policies which do not tolerate talking or
texting on cell phones while driving. Consideration should be given to
establishing the following practices for cell phone use:
Turn cell phones off or put
them in a silent or vibrate mode before starting a car.
Pull over to a safe place if a
call must be made or received while on the road.
Consider modifying voice mail
greetings to indicate unavailability to answer calls or return messages
Inform clients, associates and
business partners of company policy as an explanation of why calls may not
be returned immediately.
resources, including training materials and sample company policies, are
available on OSHA’s distracted driving web page
Department of Transportation website,
http://ww.distraction.gov, also has
updates and information on the national campaign to prevent distracted
In May 2008, the California temperatures
soared well above 95°F degrees as farm laborers worked in fields. One farm
laborer tied grape vines at a farm for nine hours before collapsing from
heat exhaustion. Supervisors attempted to revive her by placing an
alcohol-soaked cloth over her face. When she did not regain consciousness,
her fiancé, a 21year-old working alongside her, drove her to a clinic. By
the time she arrived at a hospital, she was in a coma and her body
temperature topped 108 degrees. The 17 year-old worker died two days later.
She was two months pregnant.
California law requires outdoor
employers to train supervisors and employees about the symptoms of heat
illness, have an emergency medical assistance plan and provide shade and
water to workers. State investigators later concluded that the work site
didn't have adequate shade or water available, nor did it have adequate
training standards. The nearest water cooler was a 10-minute walk away, and
breaks were not long enough to allow workers to get a drink. Sadly, her
death was not the only one that year. By the end of August 2008, five more
farm workers died from heat illness in California.
A few simple precautions would
have saved these workers’ lives. When the temperature reaches or exceeds 95
degrees, all overtime should cease and the workday shortened.
Employers should keep water within
100 feet of workers at all times and allow hourly breaks to re-hydrate and
rest. A buddy system helps ensure workers take breaks and help co-workers
identify signs of heat illness in each other. As soon as an employee
exhibits signs of heat illness, he or she should be moved to the shade. Have
the person drink water, apply wet towels to the skin, loosen clothing, and
place ice packs under armpits or groins. Monitor the body temperature with a
thermometer and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to
101-102 degrees. Never leave a person exhibiting heat illness alone in the
shade as their condition may worsen. If an employee exhibits symptoms of
heat stroke or advanced heat exhaustion, immediately call 911. For remote areas without cell phone service,
directions to the nearest treatment facility should be readily available to
September 13, 2011, from 10:00 a.m.
to noon This workshop is designed
to make you more aware of some of the issues related to the workplace and to
provide tools to help manage, defuse and prevent it.
September 22, 2011, from 8:30 a.m. to noon
At this workshop, you will learn how to fill out
the OSHA 300 Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses accurately and
- Construction Site Safety September
27, 2011, from 9:00 a.m. to noon Construction managers, first line supervisors, and construction employees will
be provided with an overview of four areas of concern on the construction site.
Program contents include: fall protection, scaffolding and ladders, electrical
hazards, and trenching safety.
The Control of Hazardous Energy October 4, 2011, from
10:00 a.m. to noon This two-hour course will help to satisfy the
requirements for training as detailed in the OSHA regulation for those who are
working in areas where Lockout programs are in place, or whose job requires them
to actually perform the Lockout and isolation of the energy sources.
Confined Space Safety November 22, 2011 10:00
a.m. to noon This workshop discusses the basic requirements and
procedures involved with permit-required confined spaces as detailed in 29 CFR
group meets the third Tuesday of every month from 8:15 am to 9:45 am.
Preregistration is required. To be placed on the e-mail distribution list,
contact John Able at email@example.com
Classes are free and held at 200 Folly Brook
Boulevard, Wethersfield, CT in Conference Room A/B. To register, contact John
Able at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Catherine Zinsser at email@example.com .
Pre-registration is required. A Photo I.D. is required to allow entry into a
public building. For more training information, visit the CONN-OSHA web site
Fatality & Casualty
Connecticut Department of Labor - OSHA
38 Wolcott Hill Road
Wethersfield, CT 06109
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March 01, 2017