How to Create a Hot Weather Plan

Date First Published on SafetySmart Compliance: February 2nd, 2012
Topics: Heat & Cold Stress |

Telling your workers to be aware of hot weather hazards, take breaks and drink plenty of water is just part of what you need to do to prevent injuries and ensure compliance. You also need to implement a heat stress plan that combines appropriate engineering, administrative and work controls. Here’s how to create a plan.

Click here for a Comprehensive Model Heat Stress Plan.

Click here for a short version of a Model Heat Stress Plan.

How to Create a Heat Stress Plan

Heat stress plans must be adapted to the unique conditions of your workplace and operations. But as a general matters, such plans should:

Say When Heat Stress Measures Should Be Taken. Set a thermal trigger when heat stress measures should take effect. You can use a WBGT calculation, a humidex advisory, smog alert or particular temperature as your trigger (assuming your state hasn’t adopted specific standards regarding exposure levels).

Require Periodic Monitoring of Temperature and Humidity Levels. To control exposure to heat stress conditions you need to monitor temperature and humidity levels of work areas on hot days. Put someone in charge of measuring the temperature and humidity levels at designated areas throughout your workplace. Require that person to take measurements both at the beginning and end of employee shifts.

Adopt Engineering Controls. Consider using engineering measures to control how hot your workplace gets including:

  • Insulation and reflective heat barriers;
  • Exhausting hot air and steam;
  • Air conditioning;
  • Using fans to keep air moving; and
  • Using machinery, such as hoists and lift tables, to make work less strenuous.

Adopt Administrative Controls. Your plan should include administrative controls such as:

  • Assessing job demands and monitoring control strategies for hot days and workplaces;
  • Longer and more frequent rest breaks;
  • Scheduling strenuous job tasks for cooler times of the day;
  • Providing cool drinking water near workers and reminding them to drink a cup every 20 minutes or so;
  • Limiting the amount of time workers spend working in direct sunlight;
  • Assigning additional workers or slowing down the work pace;
  • Making sure everyone is properly acclimatized;
  • Training workers to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stress;
  • Starting a “buddy system;” and
  • First aid and emergency response plans for workers with symptoms of heat stress.

Require Appropriate Clothing. Your plan should also instruct workers to wear light summer clothing. If they work outdoors, they should wear light colors. It might be appropriate to require clothing for high radiant heat and water or ice-cooled insulated clothing for extremely hot temperatures.

Require Employee Training. Make sure your plan requires someone at your facility to train all employees and supervisors on the signs and symptoms of heat stress and how to prevent or treat them.

Describe Appropriate First Aid Measures. Set out the appropriate first aid measures that should be taken to handle different kinds of heat-related illnesses. For example, workers should be instructed to take those suffering from heat stress to an air conditioned room for evaluation. In some cases — such as heat stroke — it may be necessary to call emergency services.


Remember: There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all plan. Details of your own plans will vary according to your industry, facility type, work process and state or provincial law. But the Model Plan lays out the fundamental elements a basic plan should include. So it should help get you started in your own efforts to establish effective and systematic heat stress protective measures.

Click here for a Comprehensive Model Heat Stress Plan.

Click here for a short version of a Model Heat Stress Plan.