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Heat Related Deaths Due to Lack of Acclimatization Programs

August 25, 2014 by Eric Schmitz

extreme heat

A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the primary risk factor for heat related illness and deaths is due to the lack of acclimatization programs. Acclimatization is an important part of heat safety, allowing workers to gradually build up their workloads and exposure to heat through the use of frequent breaks for water and rest in shade or air conditioning.

The report, which reviewed 20 heat-related enforcement cases from 2012 to 2013, noted that out of thirteen enforcement heat related fatalities, nine of the deaths occurred in the first three days on the job. Four of the cases occurred on the first day of the job. In all 20 cases, heat illness prevention programs were absent and there was no acclimatization programs.

OSHA continues to raise heat illness awareness amongst both employers and workers. The OSHA Heat Illness Prevention program provides tools to help employers and workers understand the risk of heat illness as well as prevention methods. In regards to heat illness prevention, OSHA notes that the following are critical:

- Water, rest, and shade are primary components of a successful heat illness prevention program. - Prevention programs should include:

  • Oversight
  • Hazard identification
  • A formal acclimatization program
  • Modified work schedules as necessary
  • Heat illness prevention training
  • Symptom monitoring
  • Emergency planning to prevent heat-related facilities

OSHA has implemented a free mobile app that allows employers and workers to monitor the heat index at their site. The app displays risk levels based on the heat index and also provides reminders for protective measures that should be taken for each risk level. The app can be found here. To learn more about heat illness prevention, contact [email protected].

Posted in: Environmental Health and Safety, Uncategorized Tags: Acclimatization, Awareness, CDC, death, Heat, Illness, Prevention, related