Summer safety: avoiding heat-related illness and death

by Amanda Haar

For most paint professionals, battling the heat is just part of the job during the summer months. But failure to follow a few safety precautions during periods of extreme heat can be dangerous—even fatal.

“Ordinarily, the human body is able to regulate its temperature through sweating, but if the body cannot rid itself of excess heat it will store it, which can have deadly consequences,” says Kim Shambrook, VP for Safety Education, Training and Services at the National Safety Council. She adds, “Eighty-seven people in the U.S. died from exposure to excessive heat in 2017, according to Injury Facts.”

Be prepared for high heat

Preparation is key to avoiding heat-related illnesses. By understanding the risk level, you can take steps to work more safely. OSHA offers several tools to help you do just that.

The first is OSHA’s Heat Index Guide, which enables employers and worksite supervisors to prepare and implement hot-weather plans by indicating when extra precautions are needed. Note: workers performing strenuous activity, workers using heavy or non-breathable protective clothing, and workers who are new to an outdoor job need to take additional precautions beyond those warranted by the heat index alone.


In addition, OSHA, in conjunction with NIOSH, offer a free heat-safety app. Available for the iPhone and Android, the app features real-time heat index and hourly forecasts specific to your location, reminders about protective measures (water and rest breaks, etc.), first aid information—including signs and symptoms of heat-related illness—and more.

Shambrook notes that, “Educating workers about the symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion, as well as what to do if they see those signs, can go a long way toward keeping employees safe.”

Heat illness symptoms aren’t always obvious to spot, so keeping this subject top of mind with crews and staff can go a long way in helping your team stay productive through those hot summer months.

For more articles on jobsite safety, visit

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