NOAA and OSHA warn of the dangers of excessive heat for outdoor workers

Updated Jul 10, 2017
Photo: Occupational Health & Safety.Photo: Occupational Health & Safety.

With summertime upon us, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) have teamed up with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to warn of the dangers of excessive heat for outdoor workers.

Employers are asked to take precautions to protect workers, and themselves, before a heat wave begins by following OSHA’s advice of Water, Rest, Shade, Occupational Health & Safety reports. NWS incorporates specific outdoor worker safety precautions when heat advisories and warnings are issued.

According to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 658 people die from heat-related causes every year. “Heat can be a silent killer because it doesn’t topple trees or rip roofs off houses like tornadoes and hurricanes,” Eli Jacks, chief of fire and public weather services with NWS, told the news outlet. “Nevertheless, it’s a dangerous weather condition for which people should prepare.”

On hot days, the agency recommends frequent breaks in a cool or shady area and drinking water every 15 minutes. It also encourages employers to allow new workers to acclimate and build up resistance to increased temperatures, as a recent study of heat-related workplace fatalities found that most occurred during the worker’s first week on the job.

NOAA wants to remind everyone to be informed and stay alert in order to prevent heat-related illness:

  • Pay close attention to heat advisories or warnings that have been issued for your community; NWS updates heat-related advisories and warnings online at (click on “Excessive Heat Warning” and “Heat Advisory” under the U.S. map).
  • NOAA issues excessive heat warnings when weather conditions pose an imminent threat to life, and heat advisories when weather conditions are expected to cause significant discomfort or inconvenience or, if caution is not taken, become life threatening. Heat advisory and warning information is available on the internet, on local television or radio newscast, or by using a NOAA weather radio tuned into NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazards.
  • Use the temperature and humidity to figure out the heat index for your area.

NOAA says to plan for periods of extreme heat and take the necessary precautions during hot weather, because too much heat exposure can raise body temperatures to unhealthy levels, causing illness or death.