Acclimatizing Workers to Heat

July 29, 2015

Susceptibility to temperature-related disease may differ widely between individuals. When confronted with warm conditions for many days, individuals become gradually acclimatized. Physical improvements in blood vessels along with perspiration work to dissipate body heat more effectively. In working conditions where the heat index is large, special precautions are needed to protect un-acclimatized individuals while they acclimatize to the conditions. These precautions are especially important during the first couple days on the job.

Develop a heat acclimatization program and plans that promote individuals to work continuously at a sustainable rate during times of high heat. With working with new employees or workers who have recently taken prolonged time off from work, each individual must start with 20% of a normal work load for the first day. Each of the following days after the first, the employee is allowed to receive a work increase is no more than 20% daily.  When weather patterns lead to a quick change into excessively hot weather, all workers, including very experienced ones, should work at 50% of the normal work load in the first day of the heat wave, increasing to 60% on the second day, 80% on the third day and 100% by the fourth day. Complete acclimation may take up to two weeks for some employees. Acclimation time can change depending on an individual’s susceptibility for heat illness, medications they are taking, medical limitations, or the heat intensity of the environment they work in.