Officials urge caution for workers as temperatures rise

May 29, 2014, 5:00 AM | Updated: 5:00 am

PHOENIX — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has rolled out its fourth annual campaign to prevent heat illness in outdoor workers.

While Arizona employers do a great job at preparing for extreme summer weather, there’s always room for improvement according to the agency.

“Too many people have suffered injury, illness and death as a result of the heat,” said Zachary Barnett with OSHA. “That’s why we initiate the campaign and try to initiate as early as possible here in Phoenix because we get some of the hottest weather in the country.”

OSHA’s campaign aims to raise awareness and educate workers and employers about the dangers of working in hot weather and provide resources and guidance to address these hazards.

Thousands of employees become sick each year and some die from working in the heat. In 2012, there were 31 heat-related worker deaths and 4,120 heat-related worker illnesses. Workers at particular risk are those in outdoor industries, such as agriculture, construction, landscaping and transportation.

“Employers have a responsibility to provide workplaces that are safe from recognized hazards, including outdoor heat,” said Barnett.

Last year, OSHA issued 11 heat-related citations.

OSHA has a free app which allows workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites. The app displays a risk level for workers based on the heat index, as well as reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that risk level.

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Officials urge caution for workers as temperatures rise