October 5, 2023

OSHA Heat Illness Fact Sheets Cover Hydration, Risk Factors, Pregnancy

OSHA has published three new fact sheets that address facets of heat illness prevention for workers, including hydration, personal risk factors, and considerations for pregnant workers. These documents are part of the agency’s heat illness prevention campaign, which provides employers and workers with information about how they can keep people safe when working in hot environments.

“Keeping Workers Well Hydrated” (PDF) addresses the importance of ensuring workers drink enough water in hot environments. Hydration is essential for the prevention of heat illness, and workers’ hydration may be affected by alcohol and caffeine consumption as well as medications such as diuretics. Employers’ responsibilities include educating workers on the importance of hydration and equipping all work areas with accessible, visible cool water. Workers are advised to drink one cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes while working in the heat or about 32 ounces of water every hour—but not more than 48 ounces per hour, which may cause electrolyte depletion.

“Personal Risk Factors and Heat Exposure” (PDF) is an overview of individual characteristics that may reduce some workers’ heat tolerance. Health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, may cause workers to be less likely to sense changes in temperature. Workers taking antihistamines, diuretics, and other medications may have decreased ability to feel heat, sweat, or retain water. Some workers’ physical characteristics, such as older age and lower physical fitness, may cause them to become dehydrated more quickly or limit their ability to cool themselves. And behavior such as alcohol or illicit drug use and inadequate water intake can dehydrate workers and impair the body’s ability to regulate itself. The document also provides a checklist of ways workers can keep themselves safe when working in the heat.

The third document, “Prevent Heat Illness Among Pregnant Workers” (PDF), addresses concerns specific to this group. “Pregnant workers are more likely to experience heat stroke or heat exhaustion sooner than non-pregnant workers because it is harder for the body to cool down during pregnancy,” the document states. According to OSHA, pregnant workers are also more likely to become dehydrated, which contributes significantly to heat illness. The fact sheet instructs pregnant workers on how to recognize symptoms of heat illness, when to call for help, and how to lower their risk.

Visit OSHA’s heat illness publication library to download these documents and other heat illness resources.