For OSHA Construction and General Industry

Combating Summer Heat

Summer Heat can be a dangerous hazard for Construction and Confined Space Work.Summer Heat is quickly approaching! Working in scorching temperatures will definitely be a challenge for workers.  Employees must be prepared to combat the dangerous temperatures looming ahead and follow safety precautions while working outdoors in order to combat Summer Heat Illnesses. Employers are responsible for educating workers on symptoms related to heat illness and providing resources to protect their employees.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) initiated a Heat Illness Prevention Campaign in 2011 devoted to raising awareness about the dangers of summer heat.  Each year thousands of workers either die or become sick from summer heat related illnesses. OSHA emphasizes heat related deaths and illnesses are preventable. The agency suggests considering the following tips when having to work in hot weather.

Types of Heat Related Illnesses

Medical professionals typically divide heat illnesses into three specific categories: Heat Cramps, Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke.

Heat Cramps are characterized by cramps in the calves, back or abdomen. The victim is usually experiences heavy sweating, weakness and sometimes, dizziness. The problem is typically caused by loss of salt. The best immediate treatment if this happens, is to move the individual to a cool area and start having them drink sports drinks with electrolytes. If the core body temperature is greater than 100 degrees, then consider cool water sponges to help the temp go down. At that point you can begin to massage the sort muscles.

Heat Exhaustion is characterized by heavy sweating, nausea, disorientation, strong thirst, dilated pupils, headache, rapid and weak pulse, moist red or pale skin that is cool.  When the body gets too hot, it tries to compensate by increasing sweat, but at some point other bodily systems get in the way. It is critical to know these symptoms and immediately get the person to a cool area. Begin similar treatment as in cramps including electrolyte drinks. If the person begins to vomit and it seems to be persistent, get them to a local ER room as as soon as possible, especially if they don’t feel better.

Heatstroke is a very dangerous condition that can cause irreversible organ damage and death if not treated promptly. The main danger here is that the body’s natural cooling system shuts down, and it’s primary danger area is the brain. Look for no sweating but the skin temperature is hot with core temperatures over 102, a rapid, strong pulse, rapid, shallow breathing, confusion, convulsions and seizures.  Call 911 and have the person transported immediately to an ER. Until the ambulance comes, try to keep the person as cool as possible, using cool water if necessary.


Cool Down with These Tips on Summer Heat Illness

  • Drink water often.
  • Relax in the shade to cool down.
  • Report heat symptoms early.
  • Know what to do in an urgent situation.
  • Make certain your clothing is loose and as comfortable as possible.
  • Protect your skin and eyes.
  • When appropriate, take extra precautions with certain medications.
  • Stay away from caffeine and drinks with large amounts of sugar.

Tips, educational resources, and other materials related to heat illness can be accessed from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) website at,

Managers and Supervisors can benefit from learning about a wide variety of safety hazards in the workplace by completing our OSHA-Approved 30 Hour Training Courses online at their convenience.