Heat Stress Safety: How to Prevent Heat Stroke in the Workplace
Dozens of workers die, and thousands of workers become ill every year due to heat stroke. Heat stroke in the workplace is something that must be understood and prevented.
Jobs where employees are outdoors leads to risk of heatstroke. It is vital that workers and managers become aware of heatstroke because it is considered a medical emergency.
Everyone must understand what heatstroke is, how to help someone with heatstroke, and how to prevent it.
What is Heatstroke?
Heatstroke is a serious health problem caused by strenuous working conditions in a high-temperature environment. When a body’s thermal regulations system fails and the body temperature reaches above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, heat stroke sets in.
Heatstroke may result in death and is considered a medical emergency. Recognizing the signs can lead to a life being saved. If someone exhibits any of these signs, remove them from heat exposure, call 911, and use cold water and ice to cool them down.
The causes of heatstroke include the following:
- High temperatures
- High humidity
- Lack of fluids
- Slurred speech
- Direct exposure to the sun
- Limited air movement
- Physical exertions
- Bulky protective equipment
What are the symptoms of heatstroke?
The symptoms of heatstroke vary from person to person. But it is important to look out for the following behaviors:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
- Lack of sweating in warm environments
- High body temperature
Before heat stroke, someone may show signs of heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash. Observe yourself an others for these symptoms.
What to do if Someone GetsHeatstroke
If someone has a heatstroke, it is essential that they receive care immediately. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and can result in death.
- First, call a supervisor. If a supervisor is not available, call 911.
- Move the worker to a cool, shaded area
- Remove as much clothing as possible. Hats, protective equipment, and shoes should be taken off the worker.
- Pour cool water or mist on the worker. Make sure to get their clothing wet.
- Fan air on the worker and apply ice and damp towels to the exposed areas of skin.
- If the worker is able to drink, give them sips of cool water.
Tips for Preventing Heatstroke
The most important guideline for preventing heatstroke is to remember rest, water, and shade. Workers should have access to cool drinking water, be given plenty of breaks, and have access to adequate shade.
It is vital that all workers become aware of ways to prevent heatstroke while they work in warm weather. Following these guidelines ensures you can work safely in the heat.
- Increase the velocity of air
- Drink water every 15 minutes
- Use heat-absorbing or reflecting shielding and barriers
- Reduce humidity by ensuring there are no steam leaks or wet floors
- Set a time limit for work done in the heat and increase time spent in cooler areas
- Reduce strenuous demands of the job
- Use special tools that reduce human effort
- Increase the amount of workers
- Train everyone on the jobsite about heat stress.
- Implement a heatstroke buddy system where workers watch their buddy for signs of heat intolerance
- Require workers to conduct self-monitoring checks
- Provide cool, potable water near the work site to encourage workers to drink more water
- Create a heat alert program to implement during a heat wave
- Schedule work in direct sunlight early in the day