Heat Stress Relief

Summer’s just around the corner. The nice weather brings higher temperatures and the dangers associated with overexposure to sun and heat. Every year, at least 300 people die from heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses. It’s critical that you and your workers understand the risks of heat stress and how to protect yourself against them.

Heat-related illness and heat stress result from physical activities in hot or humid environments. Several conditions are associated with heat-related illness and heat stress, including:

  • Heat rash – tiny raised red blistery rash caused by skin being constantly wet and plugged sweat glands
  • Heat cramps – an early warning sign of heat stress. Usually occurs in the legs or abdomen and is caused by excessive loss of water and electrolytes
  • Heat exhaustion – pale skin, excessive sweating, headache, nausea and vomiting, blurred vision, and dizziness. Victims may faint, but usually remain conscious

Heat stroke is the most severe type of heat stress and can result in death if not detected and treated early. Some of the early warning signs include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Mood swings (may seem violent or act intoxicated)
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dark yellow urine (dehydration)
  • Redness of skin
  • Swollen lips
  • Chills

OSHA recommends that you take these essential actions to protect workers in hot environments:

  • Consider a worker’s physical fitness to work in a hot environment
  • Have employees work in pairs to reduce the stress and so that they can keep an eye on each other’s physical condition
  • Provide easy access to a supply of safe drinking water and encourage workers to drink plenty of water throughout their shift – at least one quart per hour
  • Avoid scheduling the heaviest work on the hottest days or at the hottest time of the day
  • Alternate work and rest periods in very hot weather, making sure workers have a cool, shady place to take their breaks
  • Monitor temperatures and worker responses on a regular basis
  • Train workers to recognize and treat the signs of heat-related stress

Replacing electrolytes and minerals lost while sweating is also an essential part of fighting off the effects of heat stress. Providing your workers with electrolyte replacement drinks or tablets will help keep them hydrated, healthy, and safe.

The combination of heat, humidity, and people can be deadly. With the proper training and proper precautions to prevent heat-related illness, you can protect your health and the health of your co-workers.

Sources: HSE, Daily Safety Advisor, Ergodyne

Northern Safety Co., Inc.
PO Box 4250. Utica, NY 13504-4250
Phone: 1-800-571-4646
Fax: 1-800-635-1591

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