In recent years, both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) have indicated that working in hot environments can put workers and those around them at risk. These “hot” environments can be the starting points for the development of heat-related illnesses. It does not have to be a hot day and you do not need to be working outside. 

 

It is extremely important that everyone working in a potential hot environment learn to recognize the symptoms of heat stress illnesses and to know some basic first aid. While prevention is the primary means of protecting the worker, a good heat stress plan will keep employees safe and help reduce the risk of heat stress-related illnesses from occurring.

 

Know the Warning Signs

 

Anyone working in heat and or high humidity is at risk for heat stress, which can cause illness and even death. Watch for the signs and make sure your workers are protected against extreme heat.

 

  • Headache, dizziness, or fainting.
  • Weakness and wet skin.
  • Irritability.
  • Passing out/collapsing.
  • Confusion or the inability to think clearly.
  • Absence of perspiration.
  • Thirst, nausea, or vomiting.

 

SIGNS OF HEAT STRESS & WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:

 

HEAT RASH/PRICKLY HEAT

 

A skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather. Signs include: red clusters of pimples or small blisters, usually on the neck, upper chest, groin, under breasts, or in elbow creases.

 

WHAT TO DO:

 

• When possible, move to a cooler, less humid area as that is the best treatment.

• Keep rash area dry; powder can be applied to increase comfort.

• Do not use ointments or creams, as they may impair cooling.

 

HEAT CRAMPS

 

Sweating depletes the body’s salt and moisture levels in muscles causing painful cramps or even spasms in the abdomen, arms, or legs.

 

WHAT TO DO:

 

• When possible, move to a cooler, less humid area as that is the best treatment.

• Drink fluids and eat a snack or sports drink.

• Avoid salt tablets.

• Get medical help if worker has heart problems, or if cramps do not subside within 1 hour.

 

HEAT SYNCOPE (FAINTING)

 

Fainting episodes, dizziness, or lightheadedness usually occurs after standing or suddenly rising from a sitting/lying position.

 

WHAT TO DO:

 

• Sit or lie down in a cool place when beginning to feel faint or dizzy.

• Slowly drink water or clear juice.

 

HEAT EXHAUSTION

 

Usually occurs in response to extreme loss of water and salt from excessive sweating. Symptoms include: headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, thirst, heavy sweating, elevated body temperature, and decreased urine output.

 

WHAT TO DO:

 

• Stay with worker and call for medical help or move worker to a health facility for evaluation and treatment.

• Remove worker from hot area and give liquids to drink, encouraging small amounts of cool water.

• Cool worker with water, cold compresses, ice bath, or fans and remove unnecessary clothing, including shoes and socks.

 

HEAT STROKE

 

This occurs when the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Heat stroke can be fatal if treatment is delayed. Symptoms include: confusion, altered mental state, slurred speech, loss of consciousness, hot, dry skin or profuse sweating, seizures, and very high body temperatures.

 

WHAT TO DO:

 

• This is an emergency; call for care immediately. Stay with worker until emergency medical services arrive.

• Move worker to a cool area and remove outer clothing and cool them with water, cold compresses, or ice baths.

• Circulate air around worker with a fan to speed cooling.

• Place cold, wet clothes or ice on head, neck, armpits, and groin.

 

Remember: these are just some of the suggested signs and treatments for heat-related Illnesses. This information is only a guide to help workers in need.

 

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The information contained in this article is for informational, educational, and promotional purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. It is the reader’s responsibility to ensure compliance with all applicable laws, rules, codes and regulations. If there is any question or doubt in regard to any element contained in this article, please consult a licensed professional.  Under no circumstances will Global Industrial be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on this article.