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CDC addresses heat-related concerns for workers

New York was hit by a heat wave as spring officially gave way to summer yesterday. Though temperatures in the 90s may have been welcome after a snowy winter, these conditions are far from ideal for workers who must labor outside.

Earlier this month, we discussed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's annual hot weather safety campaign aimed at reducing heat-related workplace injuries. However, OSHA's efforts do not detail all considerations employers and employees must take notice of when preparing to safely labor in the heat.

OSHA emphasizes that employees must hydrate, rest when needed and seek shade whenever possible. The agency has also brought attention to several signs of heat-distress, including lightheadedness, elevated body temperature, exhaustion and heat rash.

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has insisted that other factors must be considered when laborers and the general public alike venture out into the heat.

In particular, the CDC emphasizes that overweight individuals and those with chronic medical conditions should be monitored more often in the heat. Workers on certain medications, including those for blood pressure, may be at higher risk for heat stroke, so this issue should be brought to the attention of site supervisors.

In addition, older workers are more likely to develop dehydration. Therefore, monitoring water consumption by this population is especially important. Individuals with a history of heart complications should also receive heightened attention at outside worksites, as they are at risk for multiple heat-related injuries and illnesses.

A worker's private life should remain quite private. However, when age, medical complications or medication consumption puts him or her at heightened risk for heat-related illness and injury, site supervisors should be alerted to these issues in order to help ensure the safety of the worker.

Source: CBS News, "Heat wave hits East Coast to kick off summer: How to stay safe," June 20, 2012

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