May 29 is here, and with summer comes the heat. Illness due to heat is a common problem among outdoor workers, as well as those working indoors.
When the body is unable to cool itself by sweating, several heat-induced illnesses can occur. Heat stress can result in heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat rashes. Heat can also increase the risk of injuries in workers as it may result in sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, and dizziness.
Some of the most common symptoms of heat stress include: headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting; weakness and moist skin; mood changes (irritability); upset stomach or vomiting. If any of these symptoms are identified, proper care must be taken in order to avoid a potentially deadly situation.
In most cases, heat stress can be prevented or, at least, the risk of developing heat stress can be greatly reduced.
OSHA recommends following these tips to prevent heat stress:
- Know signs/symptoms of heat-related illnesses; monitor yourself and coworkers.
- Block out direct sun or other heat sources.
- Use cooling fans/air-conditioning; rest regularly.
- Drink lots of water; about 1 cup every 15 minutes.
- Wear lightweight, light colored, loose-fitting clothes.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeinated drinks, or heavy meals.
There are many products available to help workers stay safe in the heat.
Specially formulated drinks like Sqwincher or
Gatorade not only replace electrolytes in the body, they also taste great. Many people prefer these drinks over plain water, leading to the consumption of more fluids – which is very important when working in the heat.
Special cooling garments are also a way to make working in the heat more comfortable by keeping body temperature down to a safe level. Cooling vests, bandanas, and hard hat pads are just some of the products that can stay cool against your body for long periods of time.
Written by: Carissa Kelley