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Heat Stress in the Workplace

What You Should Know

Excessive heat exposure can result in heat exhaustion, organ and muscle damage, and even death. Symptoms of heat exhaustion — such as dizziness, fatigue and reduced cognitive functioning — can cause serious workplace accidents. Alarmingly, the epidemic of worker injury and death due to excessive heat exposure is projected to worsen in the coming years, as record-breaking
summer temperatures are now becoming the norm. In addition to outdoor workers, indoor workers, such as employees in restaurants and warehouses without proper cooling or ventilation, are at increased risk as well.

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Our Work

The solutions to heat stress are commonsense: giving workers plenty of water, rest breaks in a cool location, modified workloads and training on how to protect themselves from heat stress. However, most employers unfortunately won’t implement these practices voluntarily. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is working to create a standard to protect workers from heat. Yet, a national standard is years away at the current pace. Some states have resorted to creating their own workplace heat standards, but the vast majority of U.S. workers remain unprotected. Public Citizen is working to change that by urging OSHA to issue an emergency temporary heat standard to protect workers until the permanent standard is in place.

Workplace Heat Stress Expert