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Occuptional health branch

Occupational Health Watch: October 2022

​​Heat-Related Ha​​zards

Heat-related hazards include high temperatures and humidity​, direct sun exposure, and limited air movement. Heat-related hazards in the workplace can result in illness, sometimes leading to death. The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that from 2015 through 2019, occupational heat exposures resulted in an average of 40 fatalities per year. Heat-related illnesses can range from heat cramps to heat stroke, which can potentially lead to death. Heat-related fatalities are usually the result of heat stroke, where physical activity in hot environments causes the body temperature to reach 104°F or higher.

Early interventions by California employers are required to prevent illnesses during high heat conditions. Some of these early interventions include: Heat Safety Tool App Example

  • Making water available 
  • Frequent breaks 
  • ​Taking time for rest and shade 
  • Training workers on heat-related hazards including heat stress
  • Acclimatization procedures for all employees 
Acclimatization is when a person gradually increases their exposure time to hot environmental conditions. This will then cause beneficial physiological changes by properly regulating body temperature. Acclimatization can be achieved by gradually increasing workloads, ensuring more frequent breaks as they acclimatize to ambient conditions, and monitoring workers for any signs of heat illness.

High risk industries likely to have heat-related hazards should follow the early interventions to prevent heat-related illness. Additionally, the OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool App can be used as a resource. This app provides current and projected heat indices for that day at the current location. CalOSHA's Heat Illness Prevention eTool helps employers develop a written program to respond to heat-related hazards in the workplace.​


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