An OSHA app for smartphones will help people who work outdoors stay safe during the hot weather.
With temperatures hovering in the low to mid-90s for most of last summer, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration said they saw a rise in heat-related injuries and illnesses. OSHA ‘s Southeast region opened inspections into two fatalities and two hospitalizations as a result of employees working in the extreme heat.
Under OSHA law, employers are responsible for providing workplaces free of known safety hazards. This includes protecting workers from extreme heat.
William Fulcher is the area director for OSHA’s Atlanta Area East office, which covers Northeast Georgia. Fulcher said OSHA requires an employer with workers exposed to high temperatures to establish a complete heat illness prevention program.
“The exposure to high heat hazards caused by the weather that we’re experiencing right now is directly related to that responsibility,” Fulcher said. “OSHA has set up a system that employers can use as a tool to help employees keep from being exposed to these heat hazards.” One of those tools includes offering employers an app for their smartphones - the OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool.
“What it does is it measures the exposure (to heat). Say the temperature is 95 degrees and the humidity is 90%, it will tell you what your safe exposure times are before you need to take a break. We recommend everybody, not only employers, but also supervisors and employees use the app just for self protection,” Fulcher said.
Fulcher also said the app also helps workers and their supervisors to take appropriate steps to keep workers safe from heat-related illnesses.
Some of those steps include drinking enough fluids, scheduling rest breaks, adjusting work schedules and knowing what to do in the event of a heat-related emergency.
The app is free and can be downloaded from the iPhone App store or Android’s Google Play and is also available in Spanish.
For more information about safety while working in the heat, visit OSHA’s heat illness webpage: OSHA Heat Stress.