OSHA Creates Mobile Apps to Help Prevent Heat-Related Deaths

Originally published by: OSHAJune 15, 2015

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Editor's Note: The NFC recently released a FrameSAFE Toolbox Talk on Preventing Heat Illnesses. Learn more about the FrameSAFE Safety Program.

For the fifth year, OSHA has partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service to prevent heat-related deaths and illnesses.

Every year, dozens of workers die and thousands more become ill due to working in the heat. About one-third of heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry, but outdoor workers in every field – including agriculture, landscaping, transportation, and oil and gas operations - are susceptible to the dangers of heat.

In a June 10 call with meteorologists and weather reporters across the country, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels and the National Weather Service's Deputy Director Laura Furgione discussed the importance of protecting workers from dangers related to working in the heat.

As a result of a four year partnership between the National Weather Service and OSHA, important worker safety information is included in all NWS extreme heat alerts. Dr. Michaels asked the meteorologist to incorporate this worker safety message into their weather broadcasts. "We need your help in getting the word out that employers are responsible for providing workplaces that are safe from excessive heat. This means providing regular breaks for workers so they can cool down, and ensuring regular access to water so workers can stay hydrated."

"We have found that most work-related heat deaths occur in the first few days of working in the heat," said Michaels. "That's why it's important for employers to allow workers to gradually build tolerance to the heat. This is true for new, temporary, and even seasoned workers who have been away from the heat for a week or more, or at the beginning of a heat wave."

OSHA also worked with the National Weather Service to develop a smartphone heat safety app that allows users to calculate risk levels at a worksite and learn the protective measures needed to prevent heat illness. Almost 200,000 people have downloaded the app so far.

The app was updated this spring for Apple devices, with full screen color alerts, improved navigation and accessibility options. This improved version let you know instantly if you are in a high risk zone due to heat and humidity—and precautions that need to be taken to prevent heat-related illness.

Visit OSHA's Heat Illness Prevention page for more information and to download or order heat illness educational materials in English or Spanish.

 

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