Protecting Employees Against Heat Stress-May 2009

Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety 

May 2009

IN THIS ISSUE: Protecting Employees Against Heat Stress

As hotter weather approaches, employers should be more concerned about heat stress. Serious physical injury can occur when workers are exposed to extreme temperatures. This may occur while working outside in the heat or in hot processes inside or out. Effects may be minor heat exhaustion but can lead to heat stroke, a potentially deadly illness Sweating, one of the body’s defenses against heat, may result in dehydration. It has its own set of symptoms and can add to the effects of heat stress.

The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has published a heat stress index that can be measured using a wet bulb globe thermometer. Results can be compared to Action Limits and Threshold Limit Values that vary based on duration of exposure, severity of work, and other factors. The index can be used as part of a screening process to assess whether an employee is being overexposed. It is an approximation and does not fully account for all factors or special conditions.

If the results are high, the effects can be mitigated through a heat stress management and control program. This may include the use of PPE such as umbrellas, evaporative bandanas, and insulated water bottles, work practices such as acclimatization, rest periods, the buddy system, shade and shielding, area cooling, clothing, and ventilation, and training.

For more information on this topic and to discuss your company’s safety and industrial hygiene needs call OccuSafe at (214) 662-6005 or visit us at

OccuSafe Environmental and Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health.   OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.

This newsletter is published monthly by OccuSafe Environmental and Safety Services, Inc.   Feel free to forward it to friends and colleagues.

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