Monitoring Your Workplace Heat Index? There’s an App for That

Aug. 12, 2011
A Department of Labor initiative now allows EHS leaders to use their cell phones to help prevent occupational heat-related illnesses. The new, free application for mobile devices monitors the workplace heat index.

“Summer heat presents a serious issue that affects some of the most vulnerable workers in our country, and education is crucial to keeping them safe,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, who announced the new app on Aug. 11. “Heat-related illnesses are preventable. This new app is just one way the Labor Department is getting that message out.”

According to OSHA, more than 30 workers died from heat stroke in 2010 and thousands become ill from heat-related illnesses every year. Construction workers, farm workers, roofers, landscapers, baggage handlers and other air transportation workers experience the highest rates of heat illness.

EHS professionals can prevent occupational heat illness by providing plenty of water, scheduling rest breaks in the shade or air-conditioned spaces, planning heavy work early in the day, preparing for medical emergencies, training workers about heat and other job hazards, helping workers acclimate to the heat and gradually increasing workloads during the first week of an outdoor project.

The app, which is available in both English and Spanish, combines heat index data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with the user’s location to determine necessary protective measures. Users will receive information about precautions including drinking fluids, taking rest breaks and adjusting work operations based on the heat index risk level.

In addition, the app helps users review the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses (including heat stroke and heat exhaustion) and understand the first aid steps they should take in an emergency. Supervisors can use the app to learn how to gradually increase workloads for new workers and how to train employees on heat illness signs and symptoms. Users can even contact OSHA directly through the app.

To download the free app, visit http://go.usa.gov/KFE. The current app is designed for devices using an Android platform. Versions for BlackBerries and iPhones will be released shortly.

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