Summer is coming, and according to meteorologists, the current outlook is for well-above average temperatures for northern states stretching from the Pacific Northwest into the East Coast.
While sunshine and warm temperatures are a welcome sight, it is important to remember that working outdoors in hot weather is a health hazard.
Beginning May 1 and continuing through September 30, Washington State requires that all employers with employees exposed to outdoor temperatures above applicable levels implement a heat stress program.
An Outdoor Heat Exposure Prevention Plan should be part of your district’s Accident Prevention Plan.
The general requirements for employers are to:
- Provide annual training to employees and supervisors on symptoms of outdoor heat exposure and policies in place to prevent heat-related illness;
- Increase the volume of water available to employees on days when temperatures require preventive measures; and
- Have the ability to appropriately respond to any employee with symptoms of heat-related illness.
How to Respond
Workers experiencing heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke can exhibit a wide variety of symptoms including: dizziness, headaches, vomiting, or fainting.
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has an educational card available that fully describes the specific symptoms of heat-related illness, and steps employees can take to prevent it.