The Heat Is On

The Heat Is On

July 29, 2020

Some may say "it's not the heat, but the humidity" that makes up the dog days of North Carolina summers, but in reality, it’s the combination of both that can create potentially dangerous conditions for outdoor activities and work. While June was fairly mild, July brought temperatures in the 90s and heat indices of over 100 degrees.  

With this in mind, it's important to keep heat-related illness and injury prevention in the forefront of our lives both at work and home. The Safety Office has taken this opportunity to share their favorite heat safety mobile app with us here inSpotlight, as well as a few heat safety reminders.  

OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool 

Available as a free download for Android and Apple devices, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) - National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Heat Safety Tool is a useful resource for planning outdoor work activities based on how hot it feels throughout the day. The tool features real-time heat index and hourly forecasts specific to your location, as well as occupational safety and health recommendations from OSHA and NIOSH. 

The OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool features: 

  • A visual indicator of the current heat index and associated risk levels specific to your current location. 
  • Precautionary recommendations specific to heat index-associated risk levels. 
  • An interactive, hourly forecast of heat index values and risk level, and recommendations for planning outdoor work activities in advance. 
  • Editable location, temperature, and humidity controls for calculating variable conditions, signs, and symptoms and first aid information for heat-related illnesses. 

To download on your personal phone, simply search for “OSHA NIOSH” in the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. IT will soon be pushing the app to all GUC-issued mobile devices. 

Heat-Related Illnesses 

Working in high temperatures, high humidity, direct sunlight, and near radiant heat sources while doing strenuous physical activities can result in heat-related illnesses and injuries. The body normally cools itself by sweating, but during hot weather, sweating isn't enough. The body temperature can rise to dangerous levels and if precautions are not taken, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or heat cramps can result. 

Heat can also increase the risk of other injuries in workers because of sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, and dizziness.  It is important to remember that heat-related illnesses and injuries are preventable by taking the following precautions: 

  • Know your risks. Workers at greater risk include those who are 65 or older, are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure, or take medications that may be affected by extreme heat. These employees should take extra precautions when working in high temperatures. 
  • Drink water often, about 1 cup every 15-20 minutes. 
  • Rest by taking frequent breaks in the shade or air conditioning. 
  • Wear light colored, loose fitting, light weight clothing when possible. 
  • Gradually build up to heavy work in the first 2 weeks of hot conditions by progressively working longer periods. This allows the body to build up tolerance to the heat.