May 16, 2023

Toolbox Topic: Working in hot weather

Summer heat is fast approaching, and it’s important to review best practices for working in hot weather.

Hazardous heat exposure can occur indoors or outdoors and can occur during any season if the conditions are right, not only during heat waves. However, heat-related illness is preventable by taking proactive approaches such as ensuring hydration, taking rest breaks in designated shady or cool locations, dressing for the heat, and monitoring for symptoms of heat-related illnesses.

Am I at risk?

According to OSHA, each year thousands of workers get sick from heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Heat related illnesses can even be fatal. You may be at risk for heat related illness if:

  • You work in hot and humid conditions
  • You do physical labor
  • You don’t drink enough water

The risk is greater for workers who aren’t accustomed to working in the heat. Protect yourself while working in hot weather by dressing appropriately for hot conditions and taking frequent breaks to hydrate and to rest in the shade.

Know the signs

Everyone should learn to recognize the signs of heat related illnesses.

Signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • Weakness
  • Wet skin
  • Headache, dizziness, or fainting
  • Nausea or vomiting

Signs of heat stroke include:

  • Confusing or fainting
  • Sweating stops, but skin remains hot
  • Convulsions or seizures

Seek help immediately if you or a co-worker experiences any of the above symptoms. Heat stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency. Call 911 and alert a supervisor immediately.

How to protect yourself
  1. Dress for hot conditions – Wear clothes that are light colored, loose-fitting, and lightweight. If your role requires you to wear heavy protective clothing and extensive PPE, you may need more frequent breaks.
  2. Take Breaks – Take breaks frequently.
  3. Hydrate — Drink clean, cool water regularly. About 16 ounces every hour.


Working in hot weather adds a layer of risk, but with planning and following best practices, risk of heat related illness and injury can be reduced.



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