Toolbox Talk – Heat Illness Identification
Hot summer months pose special hazards for outdoor workers. Labor-intense activities in hot weather can raise body temperatures beyond the level that normally can be cooled by sweating. Heat illness initially may manifest itself as heat rash or heat cramps, but can quickly escalate to heat exhaustion and then heat stroke if simple preventative measures are not followed.
Airport workers can be subject to heat stress in a variety of settings, such as high temperatures on the ramp surface and in the cargo bin of an aircraft (combined with lack of air movement in the bin). Employers should educate employees on how to protect themselves when working in the heat.
What are Heat Illnesses?
Preventing Heat Illness:
- About the hazards leading to heat illnesses and how to prevent them
- How to recognize symptoms
- To immediately report symptoms
- To know how to tell if they are properly hydrated (see hydration chart)
- About proper clothing (e.g. clothing that allows for dissipation of sweat, the difference between cotton and lightweight blends)
- Provide fresh water, close to the work area
- Remind employees to frequently drink small amounts of water (about 1 cup every 15 – 20 minutes)
- Ensure water is available when working in remote areas
Rest / Shade
- New employees should gradually increase their workload or take more frequent breaks for the first week
- Take more breaks when performing heavier work in high heat and humidity
- Schedule frequent rest periods with water breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas
- Weather reports daily
- Work activity. Set up a buddy system when possible
- Workers to ensure they are drinking water, resting in shaded areas
- Symptoms to ensure employees are not showing signs of heat related illness
OSHA Heat Safety Tool: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heat_index/heat_app.html
Note: Check with specific State Plans for additional requirements.
For additional information:
OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Page: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html
CDC NIOSH Extreme Heat Page: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress/
National Weather Service Heat Safety Page: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/heat/
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace and workers have rights. OSHA can help answer questions or concerns from employers and workers. OSHA’s On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. For more information, contact your regional or area OSHA office, call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), or visit www.osha.gov.
Through the OSHA and Airline Group Safety Panel Alliance, the Airline Ground Safety Panel developed this toolbox talk for informational purposes only. It does not necessarily reflect the official views of OSHA or the U.S. Department of Labor.