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Heat Illness Prevention Part 2: Water, Rest, Shade

Updated: Jul 1, 2020

Click here to read Part 1 of this series, which describes symptoms and first aid procedures for heat illnesses.

The three most effective ways to prevent heat illness are: Water, Rest, and Shade.

Drink Water Frequently

Drinking water frequently keeps the body hydrated. When working in hot environments, do the following:

  • Ensure you have enough cool drinking water to last you the entire shift.

  • Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink water. Drink at least 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes.

  • Avoid drinking sugary or caffeinated drinks. Sports drinks with electrolytes are acceptable alternatives to water when working in hot environments for longer than 2 hours.

  • Water should be located in places easily accessible to all workers.

Take Breaks Often

Taking frequent breaks allows the body to recover; when working in temperatures above 80F (26.7C), do the following:

  • Adjust schedules to build in rest periods of at least 5 minutes.

  • Mandatory 10 minute breaks every 2 hours are required when temperatures exceed 95F (35C).

  • Allow workers to rest as long as they need if they experience symptoms of heat illness.

Rest in Shade

Resting in the shade or in a cool area allows the body to cool down and return to normal body temperature. When working in temperatures above 80F (26.7C), do the following:

  • Ensure shaded areas are provided for taking breaks. There should be enough shaded areas to accommodate all workers in a shift.

  • Shaded area must not cause exposure to another health or safety hazard. Areas underneath mobile equipment (e.g. tractor), or areas that require crouching in order to sit fully in the shade are not acceptable.

High Heat Procedures (Temperatures Above 95F)

When temperatures exceed 95F, there may be additional requirements for heat illness prevention that include:

  • Hold pre-shift meeting to discuss and review heat illness prevention

  • Mandatory 10 minute breaks every 2 hours are required when temperatures exceed 95F (35C).

  • Establish communication methods between workers and for contacting medical assistance.

  • Monitor workers for signs of heat illnesses.

Other Prevention Tips

In addition to providing water, cool down breaks, and shade, here are other things you can do to reduce the risk of heat illnesses:

  • Allow up to 14 days to acclimate to hot weather. This acclimatization period is important for new hires or when returning to work after recovering from an injury or illness.

  • Schedule work for the cooler parts of the days and avoid the hotter parts of the day. This may result in earlier start times.

  • Check the weather forecast and be on the lookout for heat waves.

  • Wear lighter, loose-fitting clothing and wide-brimmed hats.

  • Use sunscreen to prevent sunburns.

If you have concerns about your operations in high temperature areas or questions about implementing heat illness prevention controls, contact us to schedule a consultation.


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