Heat-Related Illness Prevention: Creating an Effective Plan

Vandeventer Black LLP

In the last article, we discussed federal standards related to heat-related illness. As it warms up this summer, now is a perfect time to update or create a heat-related illness prevention plan (HRIPP) for your business. In this article, we will highlight the benefits of creating an effective HRIPP as well as helpful tips for creating your plan.

Creating a HRIPP has many benefits. First, you can make everyone aware of proper protocols and procedures in dealing with and preventing heat-related injuries. In addition, a business can bring awareness to the potential heat hazards and dangers to aid in prevention. Finally, proper planning related to heat-related illness can potentially reduce and/or prevent heat related injuries through prompt communication, effective training, and other developed protocols and procedures.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends several points to consider when drafting a HRIPP. Many of the suggestions center around daily oversight, worker safety, measuring and reducing heat stress, and responding to hazardous heat situations. It is important to take each of these areas into consideration when drafting a heat-related illness plan to ensure that the plan is all encompassing and effective for addressing heat-related illness in your workplace. OSHA’s website offers more information on heat-related illness planning and supervision.

In addition to the OSHA heat-related illness plan recommendations and resources discussed in this article, it is also important to consider total heat stress and personal risk factors when thinking about heat-related illness prevention.

Total heat stress considers both environmental heat and metabolic heat. Environmental heat focuses on heat produced by your surroundings and takes into consideration multiple factors that contribute to heat stress in employees. These factors include air temperature; humidity; radiant heat from sunlight or artificial heat sources; and air movement. Metabolic heat is heat produced by the body, is related to physical activity, and may vary by worker based on personal risk factors. Personal risk factors outlined by OSHA include, but are not limited to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Both environmental heat and metabolic heat should be taken into consideration when determining an employee’s heat stress. OSHA provides additional information on total heat stress as well as personal risk factors.

For further recommendations regarding guidance on heat-related illness prevention, refer to this Short Guide for Employers.

It is important to have a HRIPP that is tailored for your industry and advances your business’ needs.  In the next article, we will focus on the importance of adequate training and day-to-day supervision in preventing heat-related illness in the workplace. 

*This article was authored with the assistance of Summer Associate, Peyton Farley.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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