Protect Your Workers From the Heat With the OSHA App

July 17, 2014


Protect Your Workers From the Heat With the OSHA App

With a record-breaking winter in America still a lingering memory, it’s hard to imagine facilities managers and their employees who work outdoors aren’t more than a little thankful to be sweating in warmer weather.

Just because summer weather has arrived, however, doesn’t mean facilities managers and employees shouldn’t prepare to be protected from the heat.

More people died in 2013 from heat-related problems than hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning and floods, according to the National Weather Service. (Those numbers remain alarmingly high for heat fatalities over a 10-year average too.)

Previously, we’ve discussed ways to beat the heat and the important steps to take when heat-related problems occur in this space.

With the escalation of weather-related deaths due to the heat, the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched its Heat Illness Prevention campaign in 2011 with a robust number of online resources, PDFs and tips.

One of OSHA’s more popular innovations that has caught the attention of construction professionals is its Heat Safety Tool, a free app available for all Android and iPhone users.

This easy-to-use app enables outdoor workers to quickly determine the current and projected heat indices for the day in their area, simply by keying in the current Temperature and Humidity in the blank spaces.

Once those numbers are entered, hitting the blue Calculate button produces the heat index level and the risk level indicator for that day.

Below the risk level indicator is a Precautions button that explains the simple-to-follow steps workers can take to beat the heat. (One caveat: The Heat Index Tool only works when temperatures exceed 79 degrees.)

The video below explains how this tool works in more detail.

“Heat-related illnesses can be fatal,” says U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, “and employers are responsible for keeping workers safe. Employers can take a few easy steps to save lives, including scheduling frequent water breaks, providing shade and allowing ample time to rest.”

It’s also very important to remember that workers who aren’t acclimated to the heat, including new and temp workers, are affected more drastically and quicker than others. Acclimatization is the critical part that can prevent fatalities and injuries, says Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational health and safety.

“Over the past three years, lack of acclimatization was the cause of 74 percent of heat-related citations issued.”

For assistance with OSHA compliance at your facility, contact Vanguard Resources.