Whether it be outdoor or indoor, there are times that workers can be required to work in hot environments. When operating in elevated temperatures, high humidity, radiant heat sources, or any work conditions there is a high potential for a heat-related illness to occur. This is especially true when the body tries to work in hot environments for extended periods of time, heat stress can lead to heat illness or sometimes even death. 

What is Heat Illness?

There are many illnesses that may result from exposure to heat in the workplace:

- Heat Stroke is the most dangerous health problem related to heat exposure. Heat stroke occurs when the body’s temperature regulating system rails and body temperature rises to critical levels (greater than 104 degrees). It may lead to death if the worker does not seek medical help immediately.

- Heat Exhaustion is the second most serious heat-health related problem. If a worker feels nauseous, dizzy, weak, irritable, confused, sweating heavily, and a body temperature greater than 100.4 degrees they could be suffering from Heat Exhaustion.

- Heat Cramps are pain in one’s muscles due to the loss of body fluid and salts during sweating. If cramps occur, the worker should replenish their body fluids by drinking water or electrolyte replacement liquids.

- Heat Rash is known to be the most common problem in hot indoor and outdoor work environments. Heat rash is caused by sweating and can appear on the neck, upper chest groin, under the breast and elbow creases. The most effective way of treating heat rash is to use a powder and move to a cooler, less humid work environment.

 

Occupational Factors that Contribute to Heat Illness

 

High Humidity & Temperatures | Low Fluid Consumption | Direct Sun Exposure with Little Shade | Extreme Heat | Physical Activity | Use of Bulky Protective Clothing & Equipment | Limited Air Movement

 

 

Prevention of Heat Stress

There are many key elements to prevention the risk of a heat illness:

Designate­ a person to oversee the Heat Illness Prevention Program. Their job includes to seek out signs and symptoms of heat stress on the worker.

Hazard Identification - This involves recognizing any hazards in the work place that could cause a worker to develop a heat illness.

Acclimatization - this is a physical change that allows the body to build tolerance to working in the heat.

Modified Work Schedules - Altering work schedules may reduce a worker’s exposure to heat.

Training - Providing training to workers in order to understand the health effects of heat and how heat exposure and lead to heat illness.

Monitoring for Heat Illness Symptoms - Includes having a plan to monitor and report the symptoms and signs of heat stress.

Emergency Planning and Response - Having an emergency plan in place and being able to communicate it to supervisors and workers can help limit worsening conditions.

Water. Rest. Shade.

 

 

 

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