Summer is upon us, and that means hot workdays. So landscape workers are being encouraged to use a revamped Heat Safety Tool mobile app that determines heat index values–a measure for how hot it feels–based on temperature and humidity. The app, an updated version of OSHA's original Heat Safety Tool, uses the mobile device's geolocation capabilities to pull temperature and humidity data from NOAA’s satellites, to determine the heat index.
The app shows the current risk level (minimal, low, moderate, high or extreme) and forecasts the hourly heat index throughout the workday, so employers can adjust the work environment accordingly. “Workers are most vulnerable in the first few days of working in the heat, and the app helps users to calculate risk levels and learn protective measures they can take to prevent heat illness," said Dorothy Dougherty, deputy assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health. "Being aware of the risks, gradually building a tolerance, and taking the necessary precautions can keep workers safe and save lives."
Work-related exposure to heat can result in reduced productivity and a growing risk of injuries, such as those caused by sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, and cognitive impairment (that is, mental confusion, impaired judgment and poor coordination). Extreme heat causes more deaths than any other weather-related hazard. In 2014 alone, 2,630 workers suffered from heat-related illness, and 18 died from heat stroke and related causes on the job, according to OSHA.