July Safety Tip
Many people are exposed to heat on the job, outdoors or in hot indoor environments. Operations involving high air temperatures, radiant heat sources, high humidity, direct physical contact with hot objects, or strenuous physical activities have a high potential for causing heat-related illness. Workplaces with these conditions may include iron and steel foundries, nonferrous foundries, brick-firing and ceramic plants, glass products facilities, rubber products factories, electrical utilities (particularly boiler rooms), bakeries, confectioneries, commercial kitchens, laundries, food canneries, chemical plants, mining sites, smelters, and steam tunnels.
What is Heat Stress?
Your body is constantly working to maintain a normal body temperature but environmental conditions can overwhelm your body’s regulating abilities.
Signs and Symptoms of Heat Disorders
Heat rash is very common; sometimes it’s just moderate discomfort. Heat cramps can be painful muscle spasms caused by lack of salt in the body. Heavy sweating will cause this to happen. Heat exhaustion can cause some of the following: fainting or dizziness, nausea or vomiting, weak, rapid pulse, pale or flushed face, muscle cramps, headache, no longer sweating, etc. Heat stroke is the most serious problem and very dangerous. Heat stroke will be incredibly hot skin, hot to the touch with internal body temperature of 105 degrees or higher.
Treatment for Disorders
For heat cramps ease up on your work pace. Drink plenty of fluids and possibly a drink with salt/potassium in it such as Gatorade. For heat exhaustion move the person to a cool environment and encourage them to drink plenty of fluids. Consider using cold compresses if exhaustion continues. For heat stroke call 911 immediately, medical attentions is needed. Heat stroke is very serious and even cold compresses will not stop the problem from getting worse.
More Information and Details: See the June 2017 Risk Reminder.
Every year, thousands of workers become sick from occupational heat exposure, and some even die. These illnesses and deaths are preventable.
Acclimatization is adaptation of the body’s system to heat.
When a person works in a hot environment, the body must get rid of excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature. It does this mainly through circulating blood to the skin and through sweating.
How can heat-related illness be prevented?
Heat-related illnesses can be prevented. Important ways to reduce heat exposure and the risk of heat-related illness include engineering controls, such as air conditioning and ventilation, that make the work environment cooler, and work practices such as work/rest cycles, drinking water often, and providing an opportunity for workers to build up a level of tolerance to working in the heat. Employers should include these prevention steps in worksite training and plans. Also, it’s important to know and look out for the symptoms of heat-related illness in yourself and others during hot weather. Plan for an emergency and know what to do — acting quickly can save lives!