OSHA has placed 20 to 25 of its inspectors at the staging areas for cleanup of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While early concerns centered around exposure to oil and fumes, OSHA officials are finding another problem:
Workers are required to wear boots, gloves and Tyvek coveralls — a thick suit that protects them from chemicals and oil.
But all that protective gear increases the chances for heat stroke.
High temperatures in the last ten days in the cleanup area have ranged from 91 to 94 degrees. One night the low only dropped to 80. The heat index has risen as high as 110.
Dozens of workers have already been treated for heat stroke, which, if not caught early enough, can lead to death.
Some people are working 12-hour shifts, 7 days a week in the cleanup effort.
BP has set up guidelines for cleanup workers to prevent heat stroke:
- Work begins early in the day to take advantage of cooler temperatures.
- Shaded rest areas are provided at all work areas.
- Workers are required to drink liquids and take rest breaks.
- Workers have received training about the hazards of working in the high heat.