The CPWR Toolbox Talk on Hot Environments addresses the risks associated with working in extreme heat. The resource includes a ‘real-life’ case example, steps to prevent a related injury or illness, and questions for discussion. It includes an image (page 2) that illustrates the hazard, which can be posted in a central location as a reminder of steps to work safely.
Click on the following links to access the English version and the Spanish version.
Certain safety problems are common in a hot environment. Heat on the job can cause dizziness, discomfort and the fogging of safety glasses, all of which can lead to accidents.
Here is an Example
John, a bricklayer, had been outside for 7 straight hours in extremely hot weather. He began to experience nausea and grew very tired. Once his supervisor noticed John was working much slower than usual, he ordered him to take a break, which included resting, eating, and drinking water.
Recognizing Heat Illness
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, weakness, moist skin, mood changes such as irritability or confusion, upset stomach and vomiting. Heat stroke is an immediate threat to life. Serious cooling with ice or cold water must begin at once. Symptoms of heat stroke include dry, hot skin with no sweating, mental confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures and convulsions. Call 911 immediately.
Employers should provide shade, rest breaks, and water. What can you do to help avoid exhaustion from heat?
Preventing Injuries from Hot Weather
- Get enough sleep.
- Wear light clothing, and include a shirt that serves as a shield from the sun’s rays.
- Whenever outside, wear a loose-fitting long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Hard hats will protect the scalp.
- Avoid alcohol; it is particularly dangerous while working in a hot setting.
- Drink water moderately (about eight ounces every 15 minutes).
- Plan the day to tackle more strenuous jobs during the cooler morning hours.
- Rest in shaded areas.
- Watch new employees for signs of heat illness because it takes about one week for the body to adjust to the heat.
What Are We Going to Do Today?
What will we do here at the worksite today to prevent being injured in hot weather?
- Drink water every 15 minutes. Don't wait until you feel thirsty.
- Rest in shade or air-conditioning.
- Know the signs of heat stroke; it is a medical emergency.
- ©2013, CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training. All rights reserved. CPWR is the research, training, and service arm of the Building and Construction Trades Dept., AFL-CIO, and works to reduce or eliminate safety and health hazards construction workers face on the job. Production of this card was supported by Grant OH009762 from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NIOSH.