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Heat stress monitoring is a vital component of an effective health and safety program when employees work in exceptionally warm environments. Workers at hazardous waste sites often wear personal protective equipment (PPE), which increases the body heat stress load. No specific Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations address heat stress; however, OSHA does provide several guidance documents to assist employers in addressing this serious workplace health hazard. This article describes a heat stress and surveillance plan implemented at a hazardous waste site as part of the overall health and safety program. The PPE requirement for work at this site, coupled with extreme environmental temperatures, made heat stress a significant concern. Occupational health nurses and industrial hygienists developed a monitoring program for heat stress designed to prevent the occurrence of significant heat-related illness in site workers. The program included worker education on the signs of heat-related illness and continuous physiologic monitoring to detect early signs of heat-related health problems. Biological monitoring data were collected before workers entered the exclusion zone and on exiting the zone following decontamination. Sixty-six site workers were monitored throughout site remediation. More than 1,700 biological monitoring data points were recorded. Outcomes included improved worker health and safety, and increased operational effectiveness. Copyright 2013, SLACK Incorporated.


Rosalyn G Huss, Scott B Skelton, Kimberly L Alvis, Leigh A Shane. Heat stress management program improving worker health and operational effectiveness: a case study. Workplace health & safety. 2013 Mar;61(3):128-33; quiz 134

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PMID: 23429639

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