Creating and Implementing an
Occupational Heat Safety Plan
1. Commit to a heat safety plan
Safety must come FIRST. Your organization’s commitment to a heat safety plan represents a dedication to keeping your workers safe from the dangers of heat. By going the extra mile and caring for your employee/worker's health, well-being, and safety, your organization will develop a strong reputation. Committing to a heat safety plan can also reap financial rewards through heat safety training and reducing productivity losses associated with heat stress (Decreased worker's compensation, decreased time out of work, etc).
If your organization has multiple worksites, it may require multiple heat safety plans (e.g., large corporations, power plants).
2. Designate a heat safety officer for your company and identify specific roles for management team
Once your organization is committed, they will need to designate roles and make sure management is on board. Ask the following questions:
- Who will be creating and reviewing heat safety plans?
- Who is supervising workers to ensure they are following the plan?
- Who will train the employees?
- Who will assess the effectiveness of the heat safety plan after implementation?
Creating a safety committee to discuss the implementation of the heat safety plan is important to ensure that the heat safety plan is feasible. Involving the workers with the heat safety committee will aide in determining feasibility while encouraging them to follow the plan once it is in place.
3. Examine your organization’s current adoption of heat safety practices
Examine what policies your worksite already has in place to protect workers from heat exposure. Safety officers and employers should ask themselves the following questions:
- Do we have a specific written heat safety plan in place?
- If so, what are its components? Are the current guidelines evidence-based?
- If not, does the organization already instill safety practices that could also protect workers from heat stress
Be prepared to create or alter your heat safety plan based on what you found while reviewing your current policies. Your heat safety practices should be made to follow the current standard guidelines and be evidence-based to best protect your workers from heat illness.
4. Assess worksite safety hazards
To optimize heat safety, you must identify what heat hazards currently exist in your organization. For example, are workers performing work around radiant sources of heat, such as ovens? Safety officers should:
- Inspect all job sites for hazards.
- Review surveillance data for accidents, injuries, etc related to heat.
- Get feedback from your workers. What heat hazards do they feel impact their health and productivity?
5. Create your heat safety plan!
Now that you’ve: 1) committed to heat safety, 2) created a team, and 3) assessed current policies/procedures and workplace hazards associated with heat, it's time to create the plan!
Utilizing the recommendations created in the published occupational heat safety document (pending publication) will help guide employers and safety managers with the creation of a heat safety plan.
Organizations should reach out to heat safety experts at NHSC to review the plan prior to implementation.
6. Gather heat safety resources, training material, and supplies
Once your organization has created a heat safety plan, the resources, training materials, and supplies will need to be collected or created. Utilize the resources on this site or others such as OSHA or NIOSH to translate the heat safety plan to your workers.
Training materials should be created for the onboarding process and annual heat safety training. Once a new plan is implemented, supervisors should be trained to ensure they understand the new standards for surveillance and safety purposes. Once workers are trained, all employees (workers and supervisors) must confirm their readiness to implement the plan. Workers should know exactly what to do and when they need to do it. No plan is perfect, so supervisors should be prepared for surveillance and feedback following the implementation of the heat safety policies.
7) Continuing education: always update your plan!
As new research comes out on heat safety, more occupational heat safety recommendations will be offered. It's important to continuously educate yourself and others on new developments in the world of heat safety and revise your heat safety plan accordingly.