Working in Extreme Heat: Preventing Heat-Related Illnesses

By Nick Oakes, CSP 
High Steel Safety Specialist 

Keeping workers safe in hot weather is paramount.  To protect our coworkers so they stay safe when the weather gets hot, High Steel Structures implements the following measures in accordance with the High Company's Working in Extreme Temperatures Program:  

  1. 86 degrees - Monitor temperature, humidity, and heat index  
  2. Heat index of 91 degrees - Notify coworkers of increased risk of heat-related illness. Encourage coworkers to take frequent breaks in the shade or cool areas and drink water every 15-20 minutes. 
  3. Heat index of 103 degrees - Implement mandatory work-rest routines with cool-down periods of at minimum 15 minutes every 60 minutes (or less). 
  4. Heat index of 115 degrees - Complete work stoppage  

In addition to following the program requirements, High Steel maintains many water coolers throughout the shops to provide coworkers with access to clean, cool drinking water within a reasonable distance of their work areas.   

Our supervisors and leads monitor coworkers, encouraging frequent rest breaks to get water and move into cooler areas when the heat and humidity cause hot, damp conditions inside our facilities.   

As we proceed into the warmer months, educational heat illness prevention posters from OSHA are distributed at a toolbox talk.  These are also posted throughout the shops and break rooms to inform coworkers of preventative measures and help them to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat illness.   

To prevent serious heat illnesses from occurring, High Steel First Aid Team members are trained to recognize heat illness symptoms and take prompt action if coworkers begin experiencing heat-related symptoms.  

Together, we can beat the heat.