7 Jun 17
Know When to Take a Break in the Heat – ToolBox Talks
In 2014, OSHA kicked off an annual campaign to train and educate workers about heat stress management called Water. Rest. Shade. The following post will focus on rest.
Share this Toolbox Talk PDF (Topic: Rest) with your crew to educate them on the importance of taking regular breaks while working in the heat.
Since heat impacts people differently, opportunities for rest should be made available to workers in hot work environments whenever needed. Ideally, access to shaded and cool areas should be conveniently located near the worksite.
Acclimatization is the process of adapting to work in the heat gradually as the worker is exposed to the heat. Acclimatization peaks in most people within four to fourteen days of regular work for at least two hours per day in the heat. Elevated core temp and heart rate can occur during the first few days of acclimatization, when the body is strained the most. This is most important for new workers, but also to those who may be exposed to heat waves. As workers become acclimated to the hot conditions, the body regulates and the strain decreases, and in turn, work rate improves.
While individual rest periods are important, planned work-to-rest ratios are a key part of any heat stress prevention program. Once the temperature hits 75 degrees Fahrenheit (23.8 degrees Celsius), work-to-rest ratios should be reevaluated and (perhaps) readjusted. As work environment heat increases, so should the frequency and length of breaks.
Work-to-rest ratio factors to consider include:
- Working in direct sunlight
- Work intensity
- Clothing and PPE
Off the clock, workers should rest in a cool environment and stay hydrated! Resisting the urge to spend more time in the heat will pay off in the long run.