OSHA launches initiative to protect outdoor workers from heat exhaustion

ATLANTA — A lot of workers can choose to be in an air-conditioned environment.

But what if you need to be out in the heat because your job depends on it?

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Channel 2′s Linda Stouffer says OSHA has made a serious effort to protect workers.

An inaugural national initiative is telling workers and their bosses just how dangerous it is to work in the heat.

For many workers outside, their job just got a lot hotter this week and the U.S. Department of Labor says it’s serious.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, thousands of workers are injured every year by heat exposure. In 2019, more than 40 workers died.


“Construction, agriculture. It can be some things indoors, like warehouses, where it’s may not be an air-conditioned area,” Jeff Stawowy, Atlanta OSHA office area director, said.

Stawowy explained to Stouffer the safety app that OSHA uses to help warn workers when to take precautions.

The app shows the current temperature and heat index.

“We want to plan our job and allow for water, rest and shade. It’s going to take a little longer because we’re gonna take more frequent breaks when it’s hotter”, Stawowy said.

OSHA is telling workers to follow the 20% rule. No more than 20% of the shift should be at full intensity in the heat. Make sure to drink cool water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Also, take rest breaks in the shade, and check in with your co-workers.

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Stawowy told Stouffer that they want all workers to be safe on a job site.

The Department of Labor also plans inspections on high-heat days.

The department reminds employers that they have a responsibility to plan for heat safety and to be ready with a first aid response.