With summer upon us, millions of U.S. workers are forced to work in hot environments while exposing themselves to heat-related illness. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), over three dozen workers died from heat-related illness in 2015. During that same year, nearly 3,000 workers sustained nonfatal injury from heat exposure. In an effort to curb these figures, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are promoting a heat safety app for mobile devices.
About the Heat Safety App
Known as the Heat Safety Tool, OSHA and NIOSH's heat safety app is designed to help employers and workers stay safe when working in the heat. How does this app work exactly? Basically, it provides information on the local heat index in real time so that employers and workers can take the necessary precautions to avoid heat-related illness.
Different worksites have a different heat index. The heat index of a worksite varies depending on the location and time of year. Using the Heat Safety Tool, employers and workers can monitor the heat index of their worksite. If the heat index is particularly high, employers and workers should take immediate action to cool off. Otherwise, they could place themselves at risk for heat-related illness.
Some of the notable features of the Heat Safety Tool include the following:
- Visual graphic of heat index and its associated risks
- Recommendations on how to protect against heat-related illness
- Changeable temperature and humidity controls
- Warning signs of heat-related illness for which to look
- First-aid information associated with heat-related illness
- Hourly forecast of local heat index values
You can download the Heat Safety Tool for Android by clicking this link. If you have a iPhone or iPad, you can download the Apple version of the app by clicking this link. Both versions are free to download and use.
Other Ways to Protect Against Heat-Related Illness
In addition to using OSHA and NIOSH's Heat Safety Tool, there are other ways to protect against heat-related illness. Working during the early morning hours or late evening hours, for example, can significantly lower the risk of heat-related illness. In most areas of the United States, the sun is the hottest around 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. during the summer. By working around the hours, you can protect yourself from heat-related illness.
Wearing lightweight and loose-fitted clothing can also minimize the risk of heat-related illness. Your body needs to "breathe" when working in the heat. If you wear heavy and/or tight-fitted clothing, perspiration won't evaporate off your skin as effectively as it should, resulting in the gradual increase of your core body temperature.