A 23-year-old ground crewman is one of 16 heat-related deaths reported to OSHA since January.
The Townsend Tree Service Company worker collapsed after working more than nine hours in the direct sun when the heat index soared to 110 degrees near Poplar Bluff, Ind. on July 22. The crewman died after being hospitalized with a core body temperature above 108 degrees.
OSHA issued the company, based in Muncie, Ind., one serious citation following its investigation. Proposed penalties total $12,471.
"Heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable when employers help workers acclimate to hot environments, allow frequent water breaks, ample time to rest and provide shade," said Bill McDonald, OSHA's area director in St. Louis in a statement. "Working in full sunlight can increase heat index values by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Employers must keep this in mind and plan additional precautions for working in these conditions."
In order to help reduce heat-related incidents, OSHA recommends:
- Train supervisors and other employees in the proper response to employees reporting heat-induced illness symptoms, which includes stopping work, moving to a cool place, and providing help, evaluation and medical assistance.
- Require trained supervisors to go into the field and conduct in-person evaluations of employees complaining of heat-induced symptoms.
- Establish work rules and practices that encourage employees to seek assistance and evaluation when experiencing heat stress symptoms.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency. If there is any suggestion of heat stroke, call 911 and institute the other safety measures as quickly as possible. To learn more about heat-stress symptoms see OSHA's Heat Stress Quick Card http://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3154.pdf
OSHA's Heat Safety Tool App is available to employers, employees and the public for free download on iPhones and Android phones.