Water. Rest. Shade.

June 23, 2020

Summer has begun and with temperatures rising, so too is the risk of heat stress. With the support of the Barr Foundation, Our Teens Lead @ Work (TL@W) peer leaders partnered with the Boston Teachers Union and the Boston Student Action Council in order to research the effects of heat stress in schools. They have created an interactive training, Heat Stress in Schools: 2Hot2Learn, which is now available virtually. This webinar, led by teens for teens, covers heat stress basics, related health risks, heat stress prevention methods, and how young people can get involve in campaigns to address the issue in their schools. Trainings can be scheduled this summer on Monday-Thursday between 10-12 and 1-3 pm. Contact Jenny Fernandez at jenny.fernandez@masscosh.org for more information.  

However, heat stress is not limited to schools and this summer our Worker Center will be adapting the TL@W curriculum to support workers who at risk – indoors and outdoors.Under OSHA law, employers are responsible for providing workplaces free of known safety hazards. This includes protecting workers from extreme heat. An employer with workers exposed to high temperatures should establish a complete heat illness prevention program.

  • Provide workers with water, rest and shade.
  • Allow new or returning workers to gradually increase workloads and take more frequent breaks as they acclimatize, or build a tolerance for working in the heat.
  • Plan for emergencies and train workers on prevention.
  • Monitor workers for signs of illness.

While they are important, wearing masks may exacerbate the effects of heat stress as they limit breathing ability and cause overheating. In addition to health consequences, heat stress can also increase the likelihood of workplace injuries. Sweaty palms, fogged glasses, and dizziness are all potential effects of heat stress, compromising worker safety. Ensuring workers know their rights, and that employers provide water, rest and shade will be more important than ever.