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Indoor Heat Illness Prevention—The Need for Acclimatization

- August 31, 2016 by Rick Fineman, CSP, ARM (View all posts by Rick)

The Center for Disease Control completed a study of Heat Illness and Death Among workers in 2014. After reviewing every heat related fatality from 2012 and 2013, the agency focused on those that resulted in citations under the general duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health act of 1970.

Researchers looked at a total of 20 heat illness incidents where citations were issued, and found that:

  • 13 of the 20 incidents resulted in fatalities
    • Of those 13, (69% of fatalities and 45% of all incidents) deaths occurred in the first 3 days of working on the job
    • Four (31% of fatalities and 20% of all incidents) occurred on the employees first day on the job
  • Affected employees were indoors and outdoors, and ALL were engaged in heavy or moderate work as defined by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH)

Most importantly, the study revealed that no provisions for acclimatizing workers were found. Acclimatization is the result of the body adapting after gradually increased exposure to heat or a hot environment. Whenever a potential exists for workers to be exposed to heat or hot environments, employers should have acclimatization plans.

Helping employees get acclimated to a hot indoor working condition is a topic that was discussed at ICW Group’s webinar, “Beat The Heat & Keep Your Cool: Indoors.” If you have any questions about the webinar, comment below and we will address them.

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