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Heat Stress
by Carasue Moody

Now that warm weather and summer is upon us, there are some important reminders for working outdoors.

Exposure to heat can cause illness and death. The most serious heat illness is heat stroke. Other heat illnesses, such as heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rash should also be avoided.

There are precautions you should take any time temperatures are high and your job involves physical work.

OSHA has issued a directive on things to be aware of and what to do in case of heat stress.

Risk Factors for Heat Illness

High temperature and humidity, direct sun exposure, no breeze or wind Low liquid intake

Heavy physical labor

Waterproof clothing

No recent exposure to hot workplaces

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

Headache, dizziness or fainting

Weakness and wet skin

Irritability or confusion

Thirst, nausea or vomiting

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

May be confused, unable to think clearly, pass out, collapse, or have seizures

May stop sweating

To Prevent Heat Illness, Your Employer Should Establish a complete heat illness prevention program

Provide training about the hazards leading to heat stress and how to prevent them Provide a lot of cool water to workers close to the work area. At least one pint of water per hour is needed

Modify work schedules and arrange frequent rest periods with water breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas

Gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks for workers new to the heat or those that have been away from work to adapt to working in the heat

Routinely check workers who are at risk of heat stress due to protective clothing and high temperatures

Consider protective clothing that provides cooling

How You Can Protect Yourself and Others

Know signs/symptoms of heat illnesses; monitor yourself; use a buddy system

Block out direct sun and other heat sources

Drink plenty of fluids. Drink often and before you are thirsty. Drink water every 15 minutes Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine

Wear lightweight, light colored, loose-fitting clothes

What To Do When a Worker Is Ill From The Heat

Call a supervisor for help. If the supervisor is not available, call 911

Have someone stay with the worker until help arrives

Move the worker to a cool/shaded area

Remove outer clothing

Fan and mist the worker with water; apply ice (ice bags or ice towels)

Provide cool drinking water, if able to drink

Have A Safe And Wonderful Summer