We're in the heart of the summer season, and temperatures are near their hottest. This is the time of year to be especially aware of the weather and how it can affect you. Exposure to heat can cause illness, and even death. It's crucial to know the warning signs of heat-related illnesses, and how to protect yourself against them.
Prolonged exposure to hot, humid conditions puts you at risk of heat illnesses. The risk increases if you're doing heavy work tasks or wearing heavy, bulky clothing. Your body normally cools itself by sweating. During hot weather, especially with high humidity, sweating isn't enough to cool down. Your body temperature can rise to dangerous levels if you don't take the proper precautions.
Heat Stroke – The most dangerous heat-related illness. This occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature. It can cause death or permanent disability.
Heat Exhaustion – The body's response to the loss of water and salt, usually through sweating.
Heat Cramps – Affects workers who sweat a lot during strenuous activity. Sweating deplete the body's salt and moisture levels.
To protect yourself against heat-related illnesses, avoid heavy exertion, extreme heat, sun exposure, and high humidity whenever possible. If these conditions can't be avoided, take the following preventative measures:
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.
Over exposure to high heat and humidity can be dangerous. 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: OSHA, NIOSH