Did you notice that winter is over? Finally! We have escaped winter’s hold and we are headed into long days and great weather. Summer is a great time for working outside but there are some dangers that arise when working in the summer heat. Heat stress is a dangerous occurrence that can arise whenever you are working in a heated, non-ventilated environment or outside in hot and humid weather. Working at a restaurant, bakery, or outside on a construction site, or even in a non-air conditioned attic are just a few places where heat stress can occur.
Sadly, heat stress can be fatal. From a CDC article on heat stroke, “On June 27, 2003, a 41-year-old, male laborer died from heat stroke one day after being taken to the hospital. The laborer was working on an addition to a factory, sawing boards to make concrete forms. He worked until 5:00 pm that day and was in the parking lot on his way to his vehicle when he apparently collapsed beside his vehicle.” The article goes on to say, “When EMS arrived, they recorded the laborer’s body temperature as 107 degrees F. The laborer was transported to a local hospital where he died the next day with an internal body temperature of 108 degrees F. Death was listed by the coroner as due to heat stroke.”
There are four main forms of heat stress – Heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Here is a brief summary of the signs and symptoms:
- Heat rash develops on an individual’s skin, where redness appears as blisters.
- Heat cramps develop after prolonged sweating. Sweating will deplete your system of salt, moisture and electrolytes. Your body reacts to the low levels and muscles become cramped.
- Heat exhaustion is a more serious condition when your body reacts to extreme loss of water. Nausea, dizziness, cramps or complexion changes are all symptoms of heat exhaustion.
- Heat stroke is the most serious illness that can occur. Heat stroke can cause irreversible damage to the body and even death. Signs and symptoms of heat stroke can include headaches, hallucinations, unclear speech, chills, body temperatures over 103 degrees F. Occasionally the body stops sweating during heat stroke to hold onto any remaining water.
First aid considerations for a heat emergency:
- Stopping all work and rest in a shaded area
- Drink water or a sports beverage
- Stay away from caffeine or alcohol beverages, these drinks will only deplete your system of water
- Cool down using a fan or soak your clothing in water
What are some ways to help prevent heat stress? Using sun block is one method to establish a barrier between you and the sun. Additionally, starting the day early when the sun is low and the temperatures are cooler can help mitigate against heat stress. Taking “cool off breaks” as needed and using light colored clothing to reflect sunlight are good suggestions, too. The best way to prevent heat stress, however, is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! The CDC recommends, “Drink water frequently. Drink enough water that you never become thirsty. Approximately 1 cup every 15-20 minutes.”
So if you feel like you’re becoming overheated or you know you will be working in a heated environment for a prolonged amount of time, take the necessary precautions to prevent heat stress. For more information on heat related conditions, contact Acadia’s Loss Controldepartment to learn more.
Acadia Insurance is pleased to share this material with its customers. Please note, however, that nothing in this document should be construed as legal advice or the provision of professional consulting services. This material is for general informational purposes only, and while reasonable care has been utilized in compiling this information, no warranty or representation is made as to accuracy or completeness. Distribution of this information does not constitute an assumption by us of your obligations to provide a safe workplace. Maintaining a safe workplace in accordance with all laws is your responsibility. We make no representation or warranty that our activities or recommendations will place you in compliance with law, relieve you of potential liability or ensure your premises or operations are safe. We exercise no control over your premises or operations and have no responsibility or authority to implement loss prevention practices or procedures.