For starters, no, the “h” does not stand for heat. That was just to grab your attention, but now that I have it listen up!
It’s August in Columbia, MO. The heat waves are brutal this time of year. And not everyone is lucky enough to spend their day poolside. It’s so hot that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created a Heat Safety Tool as part of their campaign to prevent heat illness for outdoor workers. The Heat Safety Tool is an app for mobile phones.

What does the Heat Safety Tool app do?OSHA

The free app allows workers and supervisors to calculate the heat index for their worksite and, based off those numbers, displays a risk level to outdoor workers. There are also reminders about protective measures that should be taken at each risk level to protect workers from heat-related illness. Some of these measures include:

  • Drinking enough fluids
  • Scheduling rest breaks
  • Planning and knowing what to do in an emergency
  • Adjusting work operations
  • Gradually building up the workload for new workers
  • Training on heat illness signs and symptoms
  • Monitoring each other for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness

Working in full sunlight can increase the heat index value by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. So, this is an incredibly useful tool for construction workers. Overexposure to heat can lead to a heat related illness such as:

Heat Stroke is the most severe form of heat-related illness. It happens when the body becomes unable to regulate its core temperature. The body stops sweating and can no longer rid itself of excess heat. Heat strokes may result in death, if that tells you how serious of a matter this is. Symptoms include:

  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Very high body temperature
  • Excessive sweating or red, hot, dry skin

Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to loss of water and salt from heavy sweating. Symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Irritability
  • Thirst
  • Heavy sweating
  • Cool, moist skin

Heat cramps come from low salt levels in muscles which cause the painful cramps in tired muscles. It’s caused by the loss of body salts and fluid during sweating. The cramps can occur during or after working hours. Symptoms include:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain
  • Usually in abdomen, arms or legs

Heat rash is skin irritation caused by sweat that does not evaporate from the skin. It’s the most common problem in hot work environments. Heat rash is also known as prickly heat. Symptoms include:

  • Clusters of red bumps on skin
  • Often appears on neck, upper chest, folds of skin

Where do I find the app?

The Heat Safety Tool can be found in the Android and iPhone app stores. It’s available in English as well as Spanish.

Know Before You Go

Remember, when you’re working in the heat, safety comes first. With the OSHA Heat Safety Tool, you have vital safety information available whenever and wherever you need it. It’s important to stay informed and safe in the heat. You can use the app to check your risk level before heading out to work every morning.

I downloaded the app myself and it seems like a pretty useful tool. Of course, I don’t work outside very often, but if I did, it would be something I would most likely check every day. This app is something worth looking into in my opinion.

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