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Heat Stress Awareness

No matter the time of year, it's important to review the best ways to stay cool at work as heat-related illnesses are a matter of concern.

If you work outdoors planting trees, inside a mill, or year-round in hot environments like bakeries, foundries, or underground mines, keep in mind that serious heat-related disorders like heat exhaustion can develop days after dehydration from exposure to high temperatures.

Your body's cooling system is put under stress in hot environments. It can result in heat-related illnesses, disabilities, and even death if untreated. Anyone can experience this.

Keep reading to find details on heat stress and heat-related illnesses, as well as general tips for staying cool for your own safety and the safety of others.

Top Ten Indicators Of Heat Stroke

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can both be severe heat stress symptoms, as can minor heat rash or sunburn. The main signs of dehydration and heat stress are as follows:

  • A very high core body temperature
  • Skin that feels dry and hot because the body can't cool itself through perspiration
  • Increased heart rate and breathing rate as the heart tries to maintain proper circulation when blood pressure lowers
  • Dehydration-related headache, nausea, or vomiting that is excruciating
  • Weakness, fainting, or dizziness brought on by low blood pressure from dehydration, particularly if an upright position is assumed quickly
  • Muscle pain
  • Dark urine is an indication of dehydration
  • Uncertainty, hostility, or seeming intoxicated
  • Pale or bluish skin due to restricted blood vessels
  • Unconsciousness or seizures

If you or someone around you presents with any of these symptoms, try to cool off, stay hydrated, and consult a doctor immediately if possible.

Potential Complications Of Heat Stress

There are a number of different illnesses that can be caused by heat stress, and many of them are serious. Some may result in injury or even death, so it's important to make sure you and everyone you work with are aware of the dangers as they work.

Heat Rash

Itchy, red marks on the skin brought on by hot, humid conditions and clogged sweat ducts.

Fainting

Fainting can be caused by cool water intake deficiencies and fluid loss. You might not have any symptoms prior to losing consciousness, but if you do, the most common signs are a weak pulse and cold, clammy skin.

Heat Stroke

The collapse of your body's cooling system results in heat stroke, which carries a significant risk of permanent harm to your organs and organ systems. When sick, some sufferers are unable to sweat and are not very active, whereas other sufferers are still sweating and engaged in physical activity.

Heat Cramps

Due to excessive perspiration, muscle soreness in overused areas like the arms, legs, or stomach is brought on by a salt imbalance. This can occur while working or later at home.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion results from the malfunction of your biological cooling system. Some signs include heavy sweating, skin that is cold to the touch, weak pulse, and nausea.

How To Safeguard Yourself From Heat-Related Illnesses

In order to protect yourself and one another from heat stress, it's important to have an action plan in place to maintain awareness of heat stress factors and respond to potential risks as soon as possible. Some of the best ways to manage heat stress and protect against heat disorders are as follows:

  • Use a buddy system at work to keep an eye on each other and spot potential signs of heat stress because it might be challenging to self-identify heat stress in some cases.
  • Maintain your fitness
  • When feasible, stay out of any hot environment or the sun when working
  • Take breaks frequently
  • Reapply sunblock every two hours with at least SPF 15 protection.
  • Cover up with a hat and long sleeves.
  • Drink more cool water and abstain from alcohol and excessive coffee
  • Reduce activities when in a hot environment
  • Watch for symptoms by using the buddy system
  • Increase your salt consumption (if your doctor approves)

How To Prevent Heat Stress Disorders For Employers

As an employer, having an effective action plan in place to address the potential risk of heat stress is an essential part of keeping your workers safe. Here are some of the things you can do as an employer to protect workers at your business:

  • Educate staff members about heat stress and CPR
  • Provide access to water
  • Offer rest breaks and a cooler environment for rest
  • Post a urine colour chart in the bathrooms to promote hydration
  • Remind employees to be active and to drink water
  • Provide fans inside for air circulation
  • Work that requires a lot of physical effort should be automated or scheduled for cooler periods of the day
  • Establish a dynamic risk reduction plan based on current humidex ratings
  • Create a program to prevent heat stress at your place of employment
  • Consider Health and Safety Training Ontario for employees

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