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Occupational health branch

September 2023 Occupational Health Watch

It’s hot! The Occupational Health Branch Begins Program to Track and Preve​nt Heat-Related Illnesses and Deaths ​ 

It was a summer day with temperatures reaching the upper 90s in Pasadena, California. A UPS driver, 24, was delivering packages when he collapsed and died the following day. His family believes he died from heat stroke.

This tragedy serves as a warning and reminder that there are ways to prevent heat-related illnesses (HRI) and deaths. To prevent more instances like the devastating UPS worker story, the Occupational Health Branch (OHB) has a new program called Work HEAT (Heat Effects And Tracking). The Work HEAT program will:

  1. Reach out to the most at-risk workers and communities for prevention efforts,
  2. Develop a statewide tracking system to identify on-the-job HRI and deaths, and
  3. Provide scientific guidance for research and regulatory decision-making.

If you would to learn more about our new program, please contact us at:

Extreme heat conditions are severe and cause more deaths each year than any other weather event. People exposed to extreme heat may work outdoors and be exposed to extreme weather, or work in hot indoor environments. Jobs with potential for exposure to extreme heat  include firefighters, bakers, farmers, construction workers, miners, boiler room workers, and countless others.

Illnesses and fatalities resulting from extreme heat are preventable. Symptoms of HRI include heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and, most seriously, heat stroke and death.

Know the warning signs of HRI:

  • heavy sweating
  • paleness
  • muscle cramps
  • weakness/tiredness
  • headache or dizziness
  • nausea/vomiting

In California, employers of outdoor workers are required to provide training on HRI prevention, must train workers to understand HRI, its associated health effects, and, most importantly, how to prevent it.


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