Disclaimer

This training is based on current United States federal OSHA requirements 29 CFR 1910 and 1926. U.S. state, or other country requirements may be different. Requirements can change in the future. This paper contains general information as of the date of this presentation and should not be relied upon to make specific decisions. No warrantees are made, as this program only presents suggested procedure that may be applicable for work in these environments. The employer has ultimate responsibility for assessing the worksite and implementing adequate safety precautions.

Introduction

Work, especially in construction or infrastructure renovation, often has a time value element. Work must continue even in adverse weather conditions. These weather conditions can add yet another hazard to an already potentially dangerous occupation. However, anticipation, recognition, evaluation and control of potential heat or cold stressors can allow the job to continue safely with minimal interruption.

Heat Stress

Why is Heat Stress a Concern?

There are several phases of heat stress - heat rash, cramps, exhaustion. None of these are life threatening, however they can contribute to:

  • Loss of productivity

  • Irritability

  • Fatigue

  • Low moral

  • Absenteeism

  • Short-cuts in procedure

These all in turn can add up to becoming a safety hazard when an irritated, tired, discouraged worker starts skipping procedures and taking short-cuts on the job.

However, in addition to the above, there is also heat stroke - a true medical emergency. Between 2008 and 2014 US OSHA identified 109 "heat related fatalities" in the United States. (OSHA 2015) In one example, a construction worker collapsed after sawing boards for form work. When admitted to the hospital, the worker's core temperature was 108ΒΊ F. He died the following day from heat stroke. (NIOSH) Heat stress is a significant hazard on the job site that must be controlled. The NIOSH Criteria Document on heat distinguishes between classical heat stroke and exertional heat stroke (the more common form seen in the workplace). Individual characteristics (e.g., age and health status), type of activity (e.g., sedentary versus strenuous exertion), and symptoms (e.g., sweating versus dry skin) vary between these two classifications.

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