Protect workers in excessive heat and poor air quality Email
Written by Colorado Green NOW   
Tuesday, August 10, 2021 05:00 AM

Colorado Green NOW

Excessive heat and poor air quality from wildfire smoke both pose hazards to landscape workers. Be sure that your team’s safety program includes education on recognizing these hazards and taking steps to prevent injury or illness.

To prevent heat illness, OSHA recommends that employers:

  • Establish a complete heat illness prevention program.
  • Provide training about the hazards leading to heat stress and how to prevent them.
  • Provide a lot of cool water to workers close to the work area. At least one pint of water per hour is needed.
  • Modify work schedules and arrange frequent rest periods with water breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas.
  • Gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks for workers new to the heat or those that have been away from work to adapt to working in the heat (acclimatization).
  • Designate a responsible person to monitor conditions and protect workers who are at risk of heat stress.
  • Consider protective clothing that provides cooling.

In addition to excessive heat, Coloradans have faced many days of poor air quality due to smoke from wildfires. Chemical components of wildfire smoke can include carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds. While the best way to prevent negative effects of poor air quality is to limit outdoor exposure, that may not be possible for landscape professionals. Use or proper personal protective equipment (PPE) can reduce the risks. Respirators such as NIOSH-certified N95 masks are recommended when working in conditions of poor air quality.

Additional resources:

OSHA heat safety fact sheet: English Spanish

Protecting Workers from Heat Stress (OSHA) 

Colorado recommendations for wildfire safety 

Colorado wildfire-related air quality information 

CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) respirator fact sheet: English  Spanish  

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Long COVID now covered as a disability
No surprises in Jobber mid-year report

Bearss thrives despite tough Buena Vista climate