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Employers and workers need to prepare for severe weather events and extreme heat as the official start to summer draws near.
Since 2003, 43 states within the continental United States have experienced a tornado watch and 49 states have come under severe thunderstorm watches. Lightning strikes occur in every state. Heavy rainfall and flash flooding brought 22 fatalities to Texas in May 2015, and multiple tornadoes blasted through the Plains states also last month. Additionally, the Atlantic hurricane season kicked off June 1.
And outdoor workers in industries like agriculture, construction and transportation face serious hazards from working in the summer heat, including possible illness and death.
The season’s significant weather hazards have led the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to join forces to promote summer safety.
OSHA provides resources for workplace preparedness and response to severe weather emergencies during summer, including: extreme heat, hurricanes, wildfires and floods. OSHA also provides information and resources to assist in response and recovery efforts.
OSHA and NOAA encourage employers to be aware of weather forecasts, train workers on severe weather plans and always keep emergency supplies, including a battery-operated weather radio, so they are better prepared when severe weather strikes.
NOAA’s National Weather Service warns the public about severe weather through Wireless Emergency Alerts and NOAA Weather Radio.
NOAA issues a Hurricane Outlook for the expected overall activity during the upcoming hurricane season. NOAA and the Environmental Protection Agency created anExcessive Heat Events Guidebook to help managers prepare for heat waves.
NOAA also issues Fire Weather Outlooks to help localities prepare for potential wildfires.
And OSHA’s Heat Safety Tool App was recently updated for iPhone users. The app calculates the heat index (both temperature and humidity) at a worksite and provides recommendations for how best to protect workers based on the current risk level.
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
Follow him @SHRMRoy
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