Heat Stress Relief

Summer's here, and with it comes high temperatures and the dangers associated with overexposure to heat. Every year, thousands of workers go to the emergency room suffering from heat-related illness, and unfortunately, some die. It's critical that you and your workers understand the risks of heat stress and how to protect against them.

Several factors lead to the onset of heat stress, including high temperatures and humidity, physical exertion, and insufficient water intake. Heat stress can affect individuals in different ways.

Typical symptoms of heat stress include:

  • An inability to concentrate
  • Muscle cramps
  • Heat rash
  • Severe thirst – a late symptom of heat stress
  • Fainting
  • Heat exhaustion – fatigue, giddiness, nausea, headache, moist skin
  • Heat stroke – hot dry skin, confusion, convulsions, and eventual loss of consciousness

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

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

  • Consider a worker's physical fitness to work in a hot environment
  • Have employees work in pairs to reduce 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
  • 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

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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