Beat the Heat!  Essential Summer Work Safety Practices for Employees Who Work in High Heat and Humidity Environments
Worker taking a break to drink water

Summer finally arrived with a vengeance in Ohio this month with excessive heat warnings issued throughout the state. It’s easy to combat the misery of heat and humidity if you can float in a pool or relax in the shade, perhaps with a summer drink in hand. However, summertime heat and humidity can be far less enjoyable and even very dangerous for Ohio employees whose jobs involve work in extreme temperatures during the summer months. 

Extreme heat and humidity can impair a workers ability to safely operate equipment, work at elevations, work near traffic, or work with certain hazardous substances. Further, workers who are overweight, over age 65, have high blood pressure, or who take certain medications are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Despite these risks, many employers lack basic heat prevention plans to ensure that their workers have adequate drinking water, shade, training, or work/rest cycles during times of high heat. As the summer heats up, employers should make sure that they have the appropriate safety training and safety policies in place to minimize injuries, illnesses, and lost time.   

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation recommends that employers have a heat illness prevention plan in place to keep workers safe. Some factors employers should consider include:

  • Train employees on heat awareness and signs of heat illness
    • Heat stroke is the most serious heat related illness, and it occurs when the body can no longer control its temperature and cool down. When heat stroke occurs, body temperature can rise to 106° within 10-15 minutes, and heat stroke can cause permanent disability or death without emergency treatment. Employers should train employees to look for signs of confusion, loss of consciousness, extreme sweating, or seizures, which can be signs of heat stroke.
    • Heat exhaustion can also be dangerous, and this is the body’s response to excessive loss of water and salt through sweating. Employers should train employees to be aware of symptoms such as headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, thirst, and sweating, which can be symptoms of heat exhaustion.
  • Provide employees with access to drinking water
    • Encourage adequate water intake at frequent intervals, such as eight ounces of water ever 15-20 minutes to prevent dehydration in extreme heat.
  • Provide adequate work/rest cycles and access to shade or cooler locations
    • Consider job rotation and frequent breaks for employees during times of high heat and humidity to reduce the risk of heat stress.
    • Reduce physical exertion and physical demands during times of high heat.
  • Monitor high heat index warnings and adjust work schedules accordingly
    • Monitor daily weather and workplace conditions if employee exposure is equal to or greater than 80° in the heat index.
    • When possible, schedule heavy work during cooler parts of the day.
    • Use the buddy system to have workers work in pairs to monitor each other for signs of heat illness.
  • Have an emergency medical response plan in place in the event of a heat related illness
    • Acclimate new employees to work in high heat by starting their work schedule at 20% of the normal workload. Gradually increase the amount of time spent in a hot environment over the course of 7-14 days.
    • Consider use of hats, loose reflective clothing, cooling vests, water-dampened garments and respiratory protection.
    • Allow for frequent rest breaks and utilize cooling stations for employees who are working in high heat and humidity.
    • Create an emergency first aid plan in the event of a heat illness.

It is always best to have written policies in place to keep workers safe before extreme weather situations arise and before any injuries occur. If you have questions about the safety of your work environment during the summer months, Bricker Graydon is here to help you find solutions and keep your employees safe. 

Search this Blog

Media Contact


Recent Posts

Jump to Page

Necessary Cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Analytical Cookies

Analytical cookies help us improve our website by collecting and reporting information on its usage. We access and process information from these cookies at an aggregate level.