Preventing Occupational Heat Exposure (Cont’d)
Personal Protective Equipment
Workers should be aware that use of certain personal protective equipment (e.g., certain types of respirators and impermeable clothing) can increase the risk of heat-related illness.
In some situations, special cooling devices can protect workers in hot environments:
- In some workplaces, insulated gloves, insulated suits or reflective clothing may be needed.
- Thermally conditioned clothing might be used for extremely hot conditions; for example:
- A garment with a self-contained air conditioner in a backpack.
- A garment with a compressed air source that feeds cool air through a vortex tube.
- A plastic jacket whose pockets can be filled with dry ice or contains ice (ice vest).
Extreme Heat Alerts
OSHA has partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) onweather service alerts. NOAA’s alerts are based on a “heat index” that indicates how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored with the actual air temperature. This information can help workers and employers take precautions in a timely way to prevent heat-related illness.
Workers and supervisors should be trained about the hazards of heat exposure and their prevention. Topics should include:
- Risk factors for heat-related illness.
- Different types of heat-related illness, including how to recognize common signs and symptoms.
- Heat-related illness prevention procedures.
- Importance of drinking small quantities of water often.
- Importance of acclimatization, how it is developed, and how your worksite procedures address it.
- Importance of immediately reporting signs or symptoms of heat-related illness to the supervisor.
- Procedures for responding to possible heat-related illness.