OSHA is investigating two recent heat fatalities involving workers who were new to the job. In a recent call with meteorologists, Assistant Secretary Michaels emphasized that OSHA has found that, generally, the workers who are most at risk for heat-related illnesses are those who are new to outdoor jobs – especially temporary workers.
Seasonal workers can be considered new even if they have been working every season for several years. Gradually increasing the workload and giving workers time to acclimate allows them to build tolerance to the heat. This is critically important for workers who are new to working outdoors in the heat, who have been away from working in the heat for a week or more, or at the beginning of a heat wave. Once a worker is acclimated to heat, the risk is lower. Employers should take steps to protect workers and help them acclimate.