Heat Illness Prevention Program

Learn how to recognize symptoms and address risks of heat-induced illness; train workers to protect themselves; and respond should a heat illness emergency occur.

Heat illness is a serious medical condition resulting from the body’s inability to cope with a particular heat load and can progress quickly from mild symptoms to a serious and life-threatening illness. A heat-induced illness can occur when the body undergoes stress from overheating. Heat-related illnesses include heat rash, heat cramps, heat syncope, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. Symptoms can range from profuse sweating to dizziness, cessation of sweating, and collapse.

The Oregon OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Standard (OAR 437-002-0156) requires employers to implement measures to prevent heat-related illnesses when the heat index equals or exceeds 80°F in all places of employment. Oregon OSHA has determined that a workplace hazard exists whenever the heat index reaches 80°F (the “caution” level based on NOAA/NWS) and that a more serious hazard exists whenever the heat index exceeds 90°F (the “extreme caution” level based on NOAA/NWS).

Supervisors and their employees covered under this standard are responsible for understanding and complying with Oregon State University’s program and OR-OSHA regulations.

The procedures listed below describe the minimum prevention measures related to heat illness for OSU employees when working within the state of Oregon. Depending on the presence of certain risk factors, greater caution and protective measures beyond what is listed here may be needed to protect employees. For all other locations, supervisors are responsible for developing work-site specific plans to be reviewed with employees prior to commencing work onsite.

Supervisors must monitor the temperatures in advance and throughout the work shift to evaluate the risk level for heat illness by one or more of the following methods:

Temperature and humidity forecasts should be compared to the NWS Heat Index.

Heat index calculator: https://www.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/html/heatindex.shtml

Drinking water is required that is suitable to drink and cool (<77°F) must be provided. Plumbed drinking water which is fresh, pure, and suitably cool, is available to campus employees at various campus hydration stations. For employees who do not have access to plumbed drinking water, a supply of 32 ounces of water/hour/person is required.

Supervisors must ensure adequate shade when temperatures reach or exceed 80°F. Adequate shade on campus is readily available on campus via nearby buildings and tree cover.

For extended outdoor work or projects under direct sun such as during field work, supervisors should provide other means of shade such as a tent or canopy (if natural shade is unavailable) to be located as close as practicable to the areas where employees are working. Shade must be large enough to comfortably accommodate all employees throughout work shift or rest periods.

Employers must implement acclimatization practices when the ambient heat index exceeds 90°F.  Employees shall be closely monitored by a supervisor or designee during the acclimatization period.

An employee who has been newly assigned to a high-heat area shall be closely observed by a supervisor or designee for the first 14-days of the employee’s employment.

When the heat index exceeds 90°F, effective communication must be maintained at the work site so that employees can contact a supervisor or emergency services when necessary. A cellphone or other electronic device may be used for this purpose only if reception in the area is reliable.

OSU Heat Illness & Medical Response plan 

Employees experiencing heat illness symptoms must be monitored and shall not be sent home without being offered on-site first aid to reduce body temperature. If there are signs or symptoms of severe heat illness, or heat stroke, the following emergency response procedures must be implemented:

  • Contact emergency medical services by dialing 9-1-1.
  • Tell the dispatcher this is a heat-related illness and provide clear and precise directions to the location.
  • Administer appropriate first aid until medical responders arrive.
  • If not in close proximity to emergency medical services, a two-way radio or equivalent communication method must be provided, knowledge of a location where emergency medical services can be met, and awareness by all employees of those on the field work team that are trained in first aid.
  • Notify your supervisor and report the incident to the OSU Advocate Reporting System.

Employers must implement the following high-heat practices when the ambient heat index exceeds 90°F:

  • Ensure effective communication between an employee and a supervisor is maintained so that an employee can report concerns. 
  • Ensure that employees are observed for alertness and signs and symptoms of heat illness and monitored to determine whether medical attention is necessary.
  • Provide a cool-down rest period in the shade of 10 minutes for every two hours of work. These preventative cool-down rest periods may be provided concurrently with any other meal or rest period required by policy, rule, or law.
  • Develop and implement an emergency medical plan and practices to gradually adapt employees to working in the heat.

Complete the Heat Stress training module within Bridge.