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The Dangers of Heat Illness in the Workplace

| Industry Insights

heat illness prevention

It’s important to take precautions to prevent heat illnesses while working in hot indoor or outdoor environments. Every year, thousands of workers become sick from heat exposure, and some even die.

Our body cools itself naturally by sweating. When the air temperature is close to or warmer than normal body temperature, cooling of the body becomes more difficult. When the body cannot get ride excess heat, it will store it.

worker hard hat heat stress

Learn how to recognize heat illnesses and their symptoms:

Heat Rash – Is the most common problem in hot work environments. It is also known as prickly heat and is caused by sweat that does not evaporate from the skin. Symptoms include a sudden rash.

Heat Cramps – The first indication of illnesses related to heat. This is caused by loss of body salts and fluid during sweating. Symptoms include severe muscle cramps.

Heat Exhaustion – Requires immediate medical attention but is not usually life-threatening. Heat exhaustion is caused by the body’s response to loss of water and salt from heavy sweating. Symptoms include headache, weakness, clammy skin, a rapid pulse and nausea.

Heat Stroke – A medical emergency, this requires immediate attention and can result in death. The body is no longer able to regulate its core temperature. Sweating stops and the no longer rid itself of excess heat. Symptoms include hot or wet skin, confusion, a high temperature, a rapid pulse, possible unconsciousness and seizures.

You can prevent or treat minor heat illnesses with: 

drinking water to prevent heat illness

  • Shade
  • Water
  • Rest

Employers should have an emergency plan in place that specifies what to do if a worker has signs of heat-related illness and ensures that medical services are available if needed.

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