Heat Stress in the Work Place!
Eastern Kentucky University
Heat Stress is the exposure to extreme heat or working in hot environments. Workers who are exposed to this may be at risk of heat stress. Heat Stress can result in occupational illnesses and injuries. “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. Burns may also occur as a result of accidental contact with hot surfaces or steam.” (Prevention, 2014) Employees that are at risk of exposure to heat stress include outdoor workers and those who work in hot environments like construction workers, firefighters, military personnel, miners, factory workers, life guards, farmers, boiler room operators and many others. The workforce that is 65 years of age or older, overweight, those who have heart disease or high blood pressure , and take medication that might be affected by extreme heat situations. Ways to help prevent these types of issues is proper training to all employees who work at your job site to understand and recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stress issues. We will go over the different types of heat stress issues. Heat Stroke is the most serious of the heat-related disorders. This occurs when the body is unable to control its own temperature: “the body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given.” (Prevention, 2014) Heat Stroke symptoms:
High body temperature. A body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher is the main sign of heatstroke. A lack of sweating. In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel moist. Nausea and vomiting. You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit. Flushed skin. Your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases. Rapid breathing. Your breathing may become rapid and shallow. Racing heart rate. Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body. Headache. You may experience a throbbing headache.
Confusion. You may have seizures, hallucinate, or have difficulty speaking or understanding what others are saying. Unconsciousness. You may pass out or fall into a state of deep unconsciousness (coma). Muscle cramps or weakness. Your muscles may feel tender or cramped in the early stages of heatstroke, but may later go rigid or limp. (Clinic, 2014)
Take the following steps to treat a worker with heat stroke: Call 911 and notify their supervisor.
Move the sick worker to a cool shaded area.
Cool the worker using methods such as:
Soaking their clothes with water.
Spraying, sponging, or showering them with water.
Fanning their body.
Heat exhaustion is the body's response to an excessive loss of the water and salt, usually through excessive sweating. Workers most prone to heat exhaustion are those that are elderly, have high blood pressure, and those working in a hot environment.
Heat exhaustion Symptoms
Extreme weakness or fatigue
Clammy, moist skin
Pale or flushed complexion
Slightly elevated body temperature
Fast and shallow breathing
Have them rest in a cool, shaded or air-conditioned area.
Have them drink plenty of water or other cool, nonalcoholic beverages. Have them take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath.
Heat syncope is a fainting (syncope) or dizziness that usually occurs with standing for long periods or standing up from a sitting or lying position. The main factors that will contribute to heat...
References: Center for Disease Control and Prevention; Workplace Safety and Health Topics; Heat Stress; April 11, 2014: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress/
Mayo Clinic; Disease and Conditions; Heatstroke; May 2014 http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heat-stroke/basics/symptoms/con-20032814
Wikipedia; Wet Bulb Globe Temperature; May 30, 2014; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wet_Bulb_Globe_Temperature
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