With summer quickly upon us, employers need to remind workers of the hazards due to heat stress, and implement controls to prevent the risk of heat related illness. Heat Stress is a group of conditions due to overexposure to, or overexertion in, excess environmental temperature. This encompasses heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaust, and heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion symptoms include weakness, fainting, headache, difficulty breathing, nausea or vomiting and it is difficult to continue working. It is important to get a worker suffering from heat exhaustion some medical aid, move to shade, loosen clothing and drink plenty of cool water. It is important to intervene immediately at the first signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke may occur.
Heat stroke is a severe and often fatal illness produced by exposure to excessively high temperatures, especially when accompanied by marked exertion. Some symptoms of heat stroke include confusion, convulsions, and unconsciousness. Your body stops sweating because it has used up all its water and salt and your body can no longer cool itself down. This results in dangerously high body temperature which can lead to death. If a workers has signs of heat stroke call 911 immediately, and take aggressive steps to cool the worker down by immersing in cool water, a cool shower or wetting down with a hose, wrap the worker in cool wet sheets and fan rapidly.
Never ignore any signs or symptoms of heat stress. Immediately get worker first aid treatment and medical care when necessary.