Annual summer campaign to prevent heat-related illnesses launched


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced
the launch of its annual Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers. For the fourth consecutive
year, OSHA’s campaign aims to raise awareness and educate workers and employers about the dangers of
working in hot weather and provide resources and guidance to address these hazards. Workers at
particular risk are those in outdoor industries, such as agriculture, construction, landscaping and
"Heat-related illnesses can be fatal, and employers are responsible for keeping workers safe,"
said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "Employers can take a few easy steps to save lives,
including scheduling frequent water breaks, providing shade and allowing ample time to rest."
housands of employees become sick each year and many die from working in the heat. In 2012, there were 31
heat-related worker deaths and 4,120 heat-related worker illnesses. Labor-intensive activities in hot
weather can raise body temperatures beyond the level that normally can be cooled by sweating. Heat
illness initially may manifest as heat rash or heat cramps, but can quickly escalate to heat exhaustion
and then heat stroke if simple preventative measures are not followed. Heat illness disproportionately
affects those who have not built up a tolerance to heat (acclimatization), and it is especially
dangerous for new and temporary workers.
"Acclimatization is a physical change that the body undergoes to build tolerance to heat, and it is
a critical part of preventing heat illnesses and fatalities," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant
secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "Over the past three years, lack of
acclimatization was the cause in 74 percent of heat-related citations issued. Employers have a
responsibility to provide workplaces that are safe from recognized hazards, including outdoor
Last year, OSHA issued 11 heat-related citations. In some of these cases, the employer and staffing
agency were cited because they involved temporary workers.
In preparation for the summer season, OSHA has developed heat illness educational materials in English
and Spanish, as well as a curriculum to be used for workplace training, also available in both English
and Spanish. Additionally, a Web page provides
information and resources on heat illness – including how to prevent it and what to do in case of an
OSHA also has released a free application for mobile devices that enables workers and supervisors to
monitor the heat index at their work sites. The app displays a risk level for workers based on the heat
index, as well as reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that risk level. Since its
2011 launch, more than 130,000 users have downloaded the app. Available for Android-based platforms and
the iPhone, the app can be downloaded in English and Spanish by visiting:

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