FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — With temperatures reaching triple digits on the heat index in Arkansas, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is calling on area employers to protect workers indoors and outdoors from the dangers of heat illness.

The heat index is expected to be at or above 100 degrees in Arkansas for the next week. According to an OSHA press release, nearly three out of four heat illness fatalities happen during the first week of work. New and returning workers need to build a tolerance to heat by taking frequent breaks and working shorter shifts in the heat to start.

OSHA’s message is simple: Water. Rest. Shade.

  • Encourage workers to drink water every 15 minutes.
  • Take frequent rest breaks in the shade to cool down.
  • Have an emergency plan ready to respond when a worker shows signs of heat-related illness.
  • Train workers on the hazards of heat exposure and how to prevent illness.
  • Allow workers to build a tolerance for working in heat.

The OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool is a free, downloadable app that calculates a worksite’s heat index and displays the associated risk levels. Users can receive precautionary recommendations specific to heat index risk levels to help protect employees from heat-related illness, and the tool is available in English and Spanish.

OSHA’s Occupational Heat Exposure page explains the symptoms of heat illness, first aid measures to provide while waiting for help, engineering controls and work practices to reduce workers’ exposure to heat, and training. Exposure to heat can cause illness and death.

Workers should know their rights and what they can do to prevent heat illness. Federal law entitles employees to a safe workplace. Employers must keep workplaces free of known health and safety hazards, including heat exposure.