Hot Spot | Heat Illness Prevention

This summer has already brought extreme heat to many parts of the country. For those who work outdoors, increased danger comes with higher temperatures. Each year, thousands of workers get sick and dozens of workers die from occupational heat exposure.

There are many precautions that workers can take to help prevent heat-related illnesses:

  • Work in the shade.
  • Take frequent short breaks in cool shade.
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing, such as cotton.
  • Drink small amounts of water frequently.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and large amounts of sugar.
  • Eat smaller meals before work activity.
  • Understand that respirators, work suits, or other PPE or equipment can increase your heat stress.
  • Ask your doctor about how your medications may react with the heat.

Heat illness prevention is critical, but workers also must learn about the symptoms of heat illness and be prepared to act quickly when needed. Below is a chart with OSHA-provided guidance for helping workers in need before professional medical help is available.*


First Aid*

Heat Stroke

(Medical emergency)

    • Confusion
    • Fainting
    • Seizures
    • Excessive sweating or red, hot, dry skin
    • Very high body temperature
    • Call 911

While waiting for help:

    • Place worker in shady, cool area
    • Loosen clothing, remove outer clothing
    • Fan air on worker; cold packs in armpits
    • Wet worker with cool water; apply ice packs, cool compresses, or ice if available
    • Provide fluids (preferably water) as soon as possible
    • Stay with worker until help arrives
Heat Exhaustion
    • Cool, moist skin
    • Heavy sweating
    • Headache
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Dizziness
    • Light headedness
    • Weakness
    • Thirst
    • Irritability
    • Fast heart beat
    • Have worker sit or lie down in a cool, shady area
    • Give worker plenty of water or other cool beverages to drink
    • Cool worker with cold compresses/ice packs
    • Take to clinic or emergency room for medical evaluation or treatment if signs or symptoms worsen or do not improve within 60 minutes.
    • Do not return to work that day
Heat Cramps
    • Muscle spasms
    • Pain
    • Usually in abdomen, arms, or legs
    • Have worker rest in shady, cool area
    • Worker should drink water or other cool beverages
    • Wait a few hours before allowing worker to return to strenuous work
    • Have worker seek medical attention if cramps don’t go away
Heat Rash
    • Clusters of red bumps on skin
    • Often appears on neck, upper chest, folds of skin
    • Try to work in a cooler, less humid environment when possible
    • Keep the affected area dry

By using preventative measures and learning about heat illness symptoms and first aid, workers can be better prepared for the summer heat hazards. For additional information, see OSHA’s Heat Illness Campaign page. We also offer 100% Online Heat Illness Prevention Training for Employees or Supervisors through our website.


Date Posted: 08-01-2018
Tags: heat illness prevention, heat stress prevention, osha safety topics, osha safety training, osha workplace safety,
Categories: OSHA Safety,