Shelter From The Sun: Heat Protection for Employees in Arizona
Arizona leads the nation in heat-related deaths, nearly all of which occur during the hot summer months. Companies with outdoor workers need to review their policies regarding the protection of workers from the elements.
OSHA — the Occupational Safety and Health Act — has no specific regulations addressing employer responsibility regarding heat and sun-related hazards. However, the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) rule does state that employers must provide both protective equipment and employee training to workers if they work under certain conditions — sunlight and heat are included as environmental hazards. PPE may include clothing that protects the eyes, face, head and extremities of an employee, as well as protective shields and barriers.
Below are some additional tips to help decrease the risk of employee overexposure and heat-related illnesses:
- Minimize the number of hours employees are working outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Rotate workers in and out of non-shaded areas at the job site, and perform site visits to ensure employees are taking mandatory breaks in the shade throughout the day.
- Require employees to use PPE, including UV-resistant sunglasses, hats with wide brims and lightweight long-sleeved shirts.
- Make sun block of at least SPF 15 is available to all employees.
- Offer employees seminars, workshops and materials focused on heat preparedness and cancer prevention and/or early detection.
This article appeared in the May 17, 2010 issue of AZ Big Media.