Two federal agencies have issued warnings directed to employers about the dangers of working outside in the hot weather being experienced in much of the country, and providing advice ranging from making sure that employees have access to drinking water to making sure that medical services are available to respond to an emergency.
“Four weeks into the summer, the nation continues to experience record heat. For outdoor workers, this means being at risk for heat-related illnesses, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke,” Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said in a statement.
Solis said employers should “tell workers what to look for to spot the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke in themselves and their co-workers, and make sure they know what to do in an emergency.” Other recommended steps include providing shaded or air conditioned rest areas, scheduling heavy tasks for early in the day and letting new workers get accustomed to the conditions gradually.
Meanwhile, the Office of Personnel Management sent a memo to agencies telling them to be “proactive in protecting the health and well being of our employees . . . particularly our employees who perform their duties outdoors.”
“First, employees need to remain adequately hydrated; providing immediate and ready access to potable drinking water and other liquids will ensure their health and well-being during severe heat and humidity,” the memo from OPM director John Berry said.
Berry’s memo pointed to information posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Weather Service and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration describing symptoms of heat-related conditions and providing advice on coping with the heat.