Outcomes of a Heat Stress Awareness Program on Heat-Related Illness in Municipal Outdoor Workers

Introduction: Heat stress is an occupational hazard. Exposed workers may suffer heat-related illness, disease exacerbation, increased injuries, and reduced productivity. Response strategies include mitigation policies and preparedness.

Methods: Frequency of heat-related illness and workers’ compensation costs before and after implementation of a voluntary Heat Stress Awareness Program were evaluated retrospectively in outdoor workers from 2009 to 2017. The program consisted of training, acclimatization, and medical monitoring as outlined in NIOSH’s Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Heat and Hot Environments.

Results: Of the 604 workers assessed, those with two or more risk factors reported a heat-related illness at greater frequency, which decreased after program implementation. Median workers’ compensation costsdecreased by 50%.

Discussion: Heat-related illness prevention programs can be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of these occupational injuries as well as associated costs.

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