Heat Safety – Training and Monitoring Matters

heat wave safetyHeat safety issues are challenges in many American agricultural, industrial and construction workplaces. Safety professionals, managers and business owners should be aware of potential heat hazards in their workplaces and keep workers safe. An effective workplace heat safety program should include a strong focus upon employee training and monitoring of conditions to identify and address potential hazards.

OSHA makes active efforts to target heat safety in the workplace through education, inspection and enforcement, including a program aimed at educating and protecting outdoor workers.

Location isn’t always a good way to guess where heat safety is a challenge. While this recent OSHA citation for not having a heat safety program in Houston, Texas might not seem surprising, OSHA has also levied recent fines against companies beyond the Sun Belt states, including a moving company and automotive manufacturing plant in Nebraska and a construction company in Pennsylvania. In these cases, penalties sought by OSHA ranged from $3,700 to $13,800 – all of which could have been avoided with an effective heat safety program.


There are four kinds of heat illness: heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. All result from the human body reacting to heat. Increased physical activity increases the potential for heat illness, with heat stroke being the most critical. It is crucial to know the signs of heat illness and how to respond – as well as respond quickly.

First Aid courses offered by the American Red Cross teach how to recognize signs of heat illness as well as how to respond. Over a quarter of Filters Fast employees have certifications in both CPR and First Aid, giving them the knowledge to keep safe, watch out for others – both on and off the job, and respond to signs of heat-related emergencies. These courses are not difficult, take just a few hours and are relatively affordable, so we strongly recommend signing up for one.

You can sign up for a class with your local Red Cross chapter: http://www.redcross.org/find-your-local-chapter


As OSHA has no specific standards regarding heat safety, employers are obligated to follow the OSHA “General Duty Clause”, which obligates employers to act to protect workers from all known hazards, which includes heat exposure: 

“Each employer … shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees”

Even without specific OSHA regulations regarding heat safety, employers are always responsible for identifying and responding to heat hazards. This includes empowering employees to act, as well as monitoring working conditions to identify potential heat hazards.

Heat should take into account the role played by humidity, not just air temperature alone. The Heat Index is a more accurate measure of the level of stress placed upon the body than just air temperatures and should be watched closely. OHSA provides a very useful guide on heat and its impact upon workers.

Temperature And Humidity Logger

Supco SL400TH Temperature And Humidity Logger

To help monitor conditions and better plan work activities in workplaces, as well as home and anywhere else exposure to heat might be a concern, Filters Fast sells a number of quality devices which track and record heat and humidity. We even use them to monitor heat and humidity our own workplaces, so you know we believe in their reliability.

See our line of heat and humidity monitoring equipment.

Filters Fast has an in-house Safety Manager with over 15 years’ experience working in construction and industrial environments in southern U.S. states, including plenty of experience with heat safety issues. Feel free to leave any questions in the comments and he will be glad to respond.

Air Pollution: Greatest Threat Facing Mankind? – Part 2

Air pollution - environmental issues and concepts word cloud illustration. Word collage concept.

In part 1 of this blog, we discussed what you needed to know about indoor air quality along with the 6 most common air pollutants. If you missed it, you can read it here.

What Diseases are caused by Air Pollution?

Improved methodologies for measuring data has created a better understanding of how health is affected by airborne particles and gases. World Health Organization data factors both indoor and outdoor air pollution, which results in 4.3 million and 3.7 million deaths respectively, for a combined mortality rate of 8 million.

Diseases that result from pollution are ischemic heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, and acute lower respiratory infection in children. Looking at outdoor air pollution, heart disease and stroke combined account for a staggering 80% of deaths. With indoor air pollution, heart disease and stroke combine to make up 60% of deaths, while COPD and acute lower respiratory infections in children become more concerning.

Those are startling numbers especially when considering indoor air as the greater health threat than outdoor air. It does however correlate with EPA research that states indoor air is 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air, with some factors placing that number at 100 time greater. In certain parts of the world, particularly in low-income nations where people use coal or wood burning stoves, the likelihood of contracting a pollution related disease is far greater than in developed nations where modern gas and electric stoves, along with properly ventilated heating systems limiting exposure to harmful particles and gases.

How Can We Improve Air Quality?                                                                      

Improved data collection methods and continued monitoring of human and environmental health is the driving force of environmental policy change. According to the EPA, in the U.S., the implementation of programs designed to improve health, longevity, the quality of life, and emissions of air toxins (187 pollutants that are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects) declined 62 percent from 1990 to 2008. Yet it remains important to recognize that 75 million people in the U.S. live in counties with pollution levels above national ambient air quality standards. Likewise, 200,000 premature deaths are linked to air pollution in the U.S. each year.

It is important for individuals to be informed about air quality where they live. If you reside in the United States, Airnow.gov is a good resource for monitoring air quality and taking steps to limit outdoor exposure in poor conditions. This includes but is not limited to closing windows, less time spent outdoors or reducing heavy exertion, and turning your car’s air conditioning system to recirculate to limit exposure to exhaust gases and other harmful airborne particles.

Research done by the World Health Organization and the Environmental Protection agency, among others, reminds us why clean air is crucial to living well. As environmental policies improve, outdoor air quality will improve. Until that happens, we can at least take steps to improve indoor air quality. That is why Filtersfast.com is committed to meeting the needs of homes and businesses with quality air filtration products.

We also provide numerous resources on our Filtered Files blog discussing Air quality FactsBenefits of Air Purifiers, and Information about Air Filters.

Air Pollution: Greatest Threat Facing Mankind?

Air pollution - environmental issues and concepts word cloud illustration. Word collage concept.

Imagine a tree-lined horizon where a smoke stack rises into the sky with grey smoke pouring out over all the greenery. This is a view I saw when playing outside my family’s house as a child. There is an eerie appreciation to be gained at the sight of nature being pushed aside for industry that provides the products and services we consider essential to everyday life. So we might consider pollution to be an unfortunate but seemingly necessary by-product of human progress. The effects of which have been wide and far reaching since the start of the industrial revolution during the 1700s up through much of the 20th century as factory output was unregulated and its impact on human health went unchecked for a long time.

Over the last half-century our understanding of air quality’s affect on human health, wildlife, and climate patterns has improved. Agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in America seek to control emissions to protect human health by dictating safe levels of outdoor and indoor pollution. Still, there remains controversy regarding the actual costs associated with the creation of more strict pollution standards versus the realized human and environmental benefits.

But there is more to it than just cost. If we view global morality statistics we can estimate 56 million people die each year from various causes. According to a 2012 World Health Organization report, 1-in-7 (8 million) yearly deaths are directly attributed to air pollution. This marks air pollution as one of the single greatest environmental risk factors that humans currently face.

What do we Need to Know About Air Quality?

Nations are free to enact their own environmental laws to limit or reduce the output of harmful particles and gases. In developed nations with economic stability and greater access to innovative technologies, industry can often exist while limiting environmental impact. But for all our advancements into renewable energy and zero emissions, we live in an era where many nations are now undergoing a sort of industrial revolution of their own. Explosive growth has benefited many once small economies primarily in India and eastern Asia. It is in these regions where leaders struggle to balance economic demand with air quality and the health of their citizens. Knowing what we know now it might seem prudent to demand other nations fall in line with our environmental polices, however no country may impose such rules on another. As is, there are global frameworks in place designed to promote new environmental rules and regulations that won’t infringe too greatly on economic development.

The World Health Organization writes that a lack of awareness of the international evidence from both developed and developing countries linking ambient air pollution exposure and health is under-appreciated, and the potential solutions that can be taken to improve air quality would greatly benefit public health and reduce burdens on local populations and governments.

To understand the problem of air pollution, we need to examine a few different elements and their impact on human health. In America, The Environmental Protection Agency lists 6 common air pollutants that pose the greatest harm to human and environmental health. They are refereed to as criteria air pollutants because the EPA uses science-based guidelines for setting permissible levels of each. The sources of these pollutants primarily result from vehicle emissions and fossil fuel power plants.

Ozone (O3) – A chemical reaction created when oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) react in the presence of sunlight. This is not the same as the ozone layer around Earth. Asthma is often the result of unsafe ozone levels.

Particulate Matter (PM) – A complex mixture of small particles and liquid droplets that persist in the form of nitrates and suflates, organic chemicals, metals, soil, and dust. The concern over these particles are due to their small size. A particle whose diameter is less than 10 micrometers can pass through the throat and nose to enter the lungs.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) – Emitted during combustion processes, the colorless and odorless gas is common in urban areas where a greater number of cars reside. CO reduces the bodies ability to transport oxygen to the heart and brain. High CO levels can result in death.

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) – A group of reactive gasses known as oxides of nitrogen, or nitrogen oxides (NOx) that is commonly referred to as smog and is associated with acid rain. NO2 contributes to ground-level ozone formation, and fine particle pollution, both of which are linked to adverse respiratory problems.

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) – Highly reactive gasses known as oxides of sulfur that are primarily a product of fossil fuel combustion at power plants and industrial facilities. While unsafe to inhale, the Center for Science in the Public Interest lists SO2 as a safe food preservative.

Lead (Pb) – Naturally found in the environment and manufactured products, its emission from the transportation sector has declined 95 percent between 1980 and 1999. In that same period lead in air levels decreased 94 percent. Effects on humans range from high blood pressure and immune disorders, to neurological and behavioral problems often seen in infants and young children.

In part 2 of this blog, we’ll discuss the diseases that are caused by air pollution, and ways we can improve air quality in our lives for a healthier and happier future. Read part 2 here.