Last updated on July 22nd, 2021 at 01:55 pm
Heat Related Illness (HRI) or Heat Stress is a unique concern for outdoor workers. HRI is an umbrella term for conditions that result from prolonged exposure to heat and humidity without frequent breaks or adequate fluid intake. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) mentions the following types of HRI: Heat Stroke, Heat Exhaustion, Rhabdomyolysis, Heat Syncope, Heat Cramps, and Heat Rash.
According to a report of heat related deaths for the United States (2004-2018) an average of 702 heat related deaths occurred in the United States. It is important to know that heat related deaths are by and large preventable with proper information and prevention.
Special populations within the agricultural community may have elevated risk from complications from the heat. Older workers may have more difficulty regulating body temperature. Young children sweat less and produce heat more quickly than adults. In addition, farm workers may be working far from water or shade, may be compensated in a way that discourages taking a break, and may be fearful of reporting any symptoms of heat related illness to supervisors.
HRI and Fatality Prevention Suggestions (OSHA, Water. Rest. Shade.):
- Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty.
- Rest in the shade to cool down.
- Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
- Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.
- Keep an eye on fellow workers.
- Take it easy on your first days working in the heat – your body needs time to adjust.
Heat Related Illness Resources
- AgriSafe Heat Related Illnesses
- Heat Stress Acclimatization
- Protecting Yourself from Heat Stress
- Protecting Workers from Heat Stress
- Invest in Your Health: Stay Cool! Prevention of Heat Related Illness in Agriculture
- Practical Solutions for Heat-Related Illness Prevention for Agriculture
- Staying Cool in Your Region’s Heat: How to manage, identify, and reduce heat illnesses and sun exposure
Websites and Apps
- Heat Illness
- Heat-Related Deaths — United States, 2004–2018
- Heat Stress – Heat Related Illness
- OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool App
- Water. Rest. Shade. Keeping Workers Safe in the Heat
Page updated: July 2021