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News State / Region N.C. Labor Department urges employers to protect their workers from heat

N.C. Department of Labor officials urge those who work outdoors to prepare for one of the most dangerous summertime workplace hazards—hot and humid weather. Thousands of workers face the threat of heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke every summer.

“Employers and employees need to take the hot and humid conditions seriously and prepare for them,” Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said. “For example, they should plan the heaviest work during the coolest part of the day and drink plenty of water. Water is your best friend on a hot and humid day in the North Carolina.”

The Labor Department is kicking off its heat stress campaign June 21, the first day of summer. During the hot summer months, safety and health officers will emphasize the effects of the heat to employers and employees. In addition, the department will create public awareness through webinars, advertising, trade publications and educational heat stress materials.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of heat stress can prevent serious injury. Workers such as farmers, construction workers and highway crews know hot weather perils that are out of doors. However, the same dangers can be found on factory floors.

Dehydration is one of the primary causes of heat illness. When the body is unable to cool itself by sweating, several heat-induced illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and the more severe heat stroke can occur. It is recommended that workers consume 8 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Beverages containing caffeine or alcohol are not recommended for hydration purposes.

The Agricultural Safety and Health Act requires growers to provide water and drinking cups in the field, and that is one of the items ASH inspectors look for when conducting field sanitation inspections.


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