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Heat-related Illness

Heat-related Illness

Construction worker on scaffolding

It’s hot – and it’s getting hotter. Climate change is increasing the number of extreme-heat days across the US. This increase in heat is dangerous for outdoor workers, from agricultural workers, to roofers and construction workers, to airport runway workers. It’s also concerning for certain indoor workers who do not have a climate-controlled environment, like some workers in restaurants, packing houses, and warehouses.

Agricultural workers are particularly vulnerable to overexertion in the heat. Piecework pay (rather than hourly wages) discourages the utilization of break times during which they could rehydrate and rest in the shade. Agricultural workers on large farms may find shade and water break locations far from their working location. Some who apply pesticides may need to wear personal protective equipment which increases the risk of heat stress. Concurrent exposures to wildfire smoke, now a regular occurrence in summers and falls across the West, or to pesticides, may exacerbate underlying health conditions that are already triggered by heat stress, like asthma. Further, many may leave a hot workplace at the end of the day to return to substandard farm housing without climate controls and with insufficient ventilation, reducing their bodies’ ability to recover during the night.

There are currently no federal heat regulations, meaning workers are not legally protected from working in dangerously hot conditions or ensured basic safety precautions are followed. Three states have standards: California, Washington, and Minnesota. California’s standard requires the provision of rest, shade, and water – the three critical aspects to prevent heat-related illnesses and to alleviate mild heat-related illnesses. Around the country, however, many workers are unaware of the health risks of extreme heat, nor the increased risks of heat-related illness as a result of climate change.

 

Recommended Heat-related Resources

 

2021 Heat Related illness Clinicians Guide

Heat-Related Illness Clinician’s Guide - June 2021

English | Spanish

This guide provides information to clinicians on the prevention and treatment of heat-related illness. Since workers may not be familiar with all of the symptoms of heat stress, it is important that clinicians discuss heat illness symptoms and prevention with agricultural workers and others who are at risk.

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MCN Written Testimony for Heat Stress Regional Information Hearings Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH)

Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) is drafting a much-needed standard requiring employers to protect Maryland workers from heat-related illnesses, starting next year. During an agency hearing, Leslie Rodriguez, JD, Bilingual Program Manager for Environmental and Occupational Health, provided Migrant Clinicians Network’s comments on the new standard.

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California Heat Illness Prevention

This page overviews the CA Heat Illness standard and resources in multiple languages.

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OSHA Heat Safety Tool App

Calculates the heat index for their worksite, and, based on the heat index, displays a risk level to outdoor workers.

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Water, Rest, Shade - Video

This 9-minute video features workers from agriculture, construction and landscaping and heat illness prevention and treatment.

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Workplace Safety and Health for Farmworkers: Pesticides, Field Sanitation, and Heat Illness

This training curriculum from Farmworker Justice reviews basic concepts related to pesticide exposure, field sanitation, heat illness, and worker rights.

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PNASH Heat Toolkit

A set of resources and tools developed in collaboration with agricultural workers and educators. The toolkit provides a train-the-trainer guide for the identification, prevention, and treatment of heat illness and is available in both English and Spanish.

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Heat Stress Prevention Brochure

This 9-minute video features workers from agriculture, construction and landscaping and heat illness prevention and
treatment

A bilingual (English/Spanish) brochure created by AFOP detailing best practices for heat stress prevention for farmworkers.

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Heat Stress in the Fields and COVID-19

This 9-minute video features workers from agriculture, construction and landscaping and heat illness prevention and
treatment

YouTube video with Public Citizen's Dr. Juley Fulcher and AFOP Program Manager Vashti Kelly speaking about Heat Stress in the Fields and the interplay between heat-related illness and COVID-19.

 



Clinician Resources

 
Heat-Related Illness Clinician’s Guide - June 2021

English | Spanish

This guide provides information to clinicians on the prevention and treatment of heat-related illness. Since workers may not be familiar with all of the symptoms of heat stress, it is important that clinicians discuss heat illness symptoms and prevention with agricultural workers and others who are at risk.

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Heat-Related Illnesses

by R. Gauer and B.K. Meyers

 



Patient Resources

The following are some useful resources designed specifically for workers on how to prevent, recognize and address heat illness in the workplace.

 

Preview of Heat Stress Fotonovela

Heat Stress Fotonovela

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Heat-Related Illnesses - What to Look For / What to Do (English)

Enfermedades Relacionadas con el Calor (Spanish)

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National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health

NIOSH Fast Facts (English)

NIOSH Datos Breves (Spanish)

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Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Water. Rest. Shade. The Work Can’t Get Done Without Them (Low-Literacy Fact Sheet)(English)

Agua. Sombra. Descansos. Sin ellos no se puede trabajar (Spanish)

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PacificNorthwestAgriculturalSafetyandHealthCenter logo

Heat Illness Prevention

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UC Davis Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety

Heat Illness Prevention

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Webinars on Heat-related Illness

It's Hot and It's Dangerous!
A webinar for community health workers to learn about heat-related illness and how to prevent it

View webinar in English | Spanish