Heat Stress Illnesses

Given the proper working conditions, it is possible for anyone to suffer from heat illness.  As the temperature rises and the humidity intensifies the body’s ability to cool itself diminishes. Workers at risk for heat stress include outdoor workers and workers that are exposed to hot environments. Below are the top 5 heat illnesses to watch for.

Heat Rash - Caused when sweat cannot get to the surface of the skin to evaporate. Red blistery rash appears due to skin being consistently wet from sweat. Heat rash typically fades when the skin is cooled.

Heat Cramps - Usually occurs in the abdomen or legs. The condition is caused by loss of water and electrolytes. To avoid cramps rest in cool places and stay hydrated by drinking water or sport drinks.

Heat Exhaustion - Occurs when exposed to high temperatures.  Symptoms include pale skin, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, rapid heartbeat and profuse sweating.  Reduce the risk of heat exhaustion by wearing lightweight, light- colored clothing, hydrating often and applying sunscreen. To help fight heat exhaustion view our lightweight hi-viz clothing, sunscreen, and cooling vests.

Heat Syncope - Also known as orthostatic dizziness, results in fainting episodes that someone can experience during heat exposure. This occurs when blood flow to the brain is reduced due to the dilating of blood vessels to such an extent to attempt to cool the body. Browse our entire heat stress category.

Heat Stroke - The most serious form of heat illness. Heat stroke can kill or cause serious brain damage. Symptoms include hot dry skin and a very high body temperature. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can lead to failure of the body’s temperature control system. View our bandanas, cooling towels and neck wraps.

Preventive measures

To prevent heat illness, employers should:

Keep workers hydrated and provide them with water and shade.  Provide training on the hazards of heat stress and the warning signs of potential illness. Most importantly, employees need to be trained what to do if they or coworkers experience heat stress symptoms. Proper training can save lives or prevent injuries. Help employees stay hydrated. For a few laborers, this implies no less than one 16 ounces of hydration for every hour. For others, not as much, but rather they ought to hydrate regardless if they are thirsty or not.

OSHA's Heat Safety Tool This application allows workers and supervisors to calculate the heat index for their worksite, and, based on the heat index, displays a risk level to outdoor workers. Then, with a simple "click," you can get reminders about the protective measures that should be taken.

Follow this chart below to better determine how much water is adequate for hydration.