Many municipal, fire, police, and public school employees, as well as public school students, perform physical or sports activities on hot and/or humid summer days, putting them at risk for heat-related illnesses. Heat stress, especially heat stroke, can be life threatening, but fortunately these occupational illnesses are almost always preventable.
Who is at risk?
- While everyone is at some risk from high temperatures, people with chronic health conditions (such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or obesity) or who are over age 35 are more susceptible to heat illnesses.
- Workers new to outdoor jobs are also at high risk.
- People who are not acclimatized to the heat. The incidence of heat-related illness spikes on the first hot days of summer and during the first days of sports practice, before the victim becomes acclimatized to the heat.
- Provide workers with water, rest, and shade.
- Allow new or returning workers to gradually increase workloads and take more frequent breaks as they acclimatize, or build tolerance for working in the heat.
- Plan for emergencies and train workers on prevention. (CIRMA's Dealing with Heat Stress 30 minute E-Learning training program helps employees understand the health risks associated with heat stress, identify methods for minimizing the effects of heat, and recognize the symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion in themselves and others.)
- Monitor workers for signs of illness.
CIRMA urges its member municipalities and public schools to put in place a heat-related illness prevention program. For more information, please consult OSHA's webpages on occupational heat exposures and preventive measures, OSHA Quick Card, and the University of Connecticut/Korey Stringer Institute webpages on heat-related illnesses and student athletics.
Contact your CIRMA Risk Management Consultant to learn more about our programs