Heat Illness

This page was last updated on September 4, 2019.

Millions of U.S. workers are exposed to heat in their workplaces. Although illness from exposure to heat is preventable, every year, thousands become sick from occupational heat exposure, and some cases are fatal. 50% to 70% of outdoor fatalities occur in the first few days of working in warm or hot environments because the body needs to build a tolerance to the heat gradually over time. The process of building tolerance is called heat acclimatization. A lack of acclimatization represents a major risk factor for fatal outcomes.

Occupational risk factors for heat illness include heavy physical activity, warm or hot environmental conditions, lack of acclimatization, and wearing clothing that holds in body heat.

Hazardous heat exposure can occur indoors or outdoors, and can occur during any season if the conditions are right, not only during heat waves.

Tools and guidance are available at the following link:
https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatstress/