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July 18, 2006: OSHA QuickCards Help Keep Workers Safe in Hot Weather

July 18, 2006
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WASHINGTON - Fast-thinking employees performing cleanup and recovery work in New Orleans helped save a co-worker's life by using an OSHA QuickCard to identify signs of heat stroke and then provide first aid until an ambulance arrived a few minutes later. Earlier that day, the small group of workers and their supervisor held a 15-minute safety meeting to discuss the recognition, treatment, and dangers of heat-related illnesses.

After being treated for heat stroke, the worker was released from an area hospital and returned to work the next day. An attending physician said that if treatment had been delayed another 15 minutes, he might have died.

While the outcome of this story is not likely to lead the nightly news or appear on the local paper's front page, it does represent a real scenario that plays itself out many times throughout the hot summer months. However, because of foresight, fast thinking, and the right information, tragedy can be averted, noted OSHA.

The two most serious forms of heat-related illnesses are heat exhaustion (primarily from dehydration) and heat stroke, which could be fatal. Signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke need immediate attention. Recognizing those warning signs and taking quick action can make a difference in preventing a fatality.

Working Outdoors is an OSHA fact sheet that offers advice on ways to protect against exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV), precautions to take if working in extreme heat, and how to protect against Lyme Disease and the West Nile Virus.

OSHA's Heat Stress Card lists tips and precautions to prevent many heat-related injuries and deaths. Available in English and Spanish, this laminated card is free to employers to distribute to their workers. It offers a quick reference about heat-related injuries, including warning signs, symptoms, and early treatment.

Protecting Yourself Against Harmful Sunlight is a pocket card that explains how to perform self-examinations to detect early stages of skin cancer. The card, available in English and Spanish, also describes common physical features of skin cancer that can be caused by exposure to the sun.

These publications and others related to outdoor job hazards can be downloaded from OSHA's Website on the publications page at www.osha.gov/pls/publications/pubindex.list or can be ordered by calling OSHA's publications office at 202-693-1888. More information about heat and sun hazards can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Website at www.cdc.gov and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Website at www.cdc.gov/niosh/homepage.html.

Publication date: 07/17/2006

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