#233 Heat Environmental Risk Factors

The Cal/OSHA heat illness standard requires employers to have an active Heat Illness Awareness & Prevention plan for all outdoor places of work at all times, not just when it starts heating up! In California, there is a high likelihood that environmental risk factors for heat illness exist from the beginning of APRIL through the end of OCTOBER. The following Risk Factors arise from working in conditions that create the possibility that heat illness could occur and should be carefully monitored: 

A worker’s body can be heated from external sources:

  • Air temperature
  • Relative humidity
  • Radiant heat from the sun and other sources
  • Conductive heat sources such as the ground

A worker’s ability to cool through evaporation of sweat and contact with cooler air can be affected:

  • Air movement
  • Protective clothing
  • Personal protective equipment worn by employees

A worker’s Personal Protective Equipment, in addition to workload severity and duration can significantly increase the body’s metabolic heat burden and susceptibility to heat illness. 

 Take control of the environmental risk factors for heat illness on your jobsite:

  • Develop a habit of obtaining the weather forecast and evaluating the including temperature and humidity at the worksite with the heat index chart
  • Schedule outdoor or vigorous work in the cooler parts of the day
  • Schedule additional breaks during the hot times of the day in shaded areas
  • Account for the types of clothing workers are wearing and encourage loose fitting, light colored clothing
  • Carefully monitor workers wearing PPE or heavier clothing for heat stress
  • Enforce your companies Heat Illness Awareness & Prevention Program Training, Acclimatization, Hydration and Emergency Recognition & Response Procedures!