Responding to heat stroke, heat exhaustion
Workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments may be at risk of heat stress. Exposure to extreme heat can result in occupational illnesses and injuries. Heat stress can result in heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat rashes. Heat can also increase the risk of injuries in workers as it may result in sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, and dizziness.
Workers at risk of heat stress include outdoor workers and workers in hot environments such as firefighters, bakery workers, farmers, construction workers, miners, boiler room workers, factory workers, and others.
Body temperature can rise to dangerous levels, OSHA states, if actions such as drinking water or resting in a shaded area or an air-conditioned room aren’t taken to cool down. Employees at risk for heat-related illnesses include outdoor workers (although certain indoor jobs can be hot enough to result in a heat-related illness), workers performing heavy tasks and workers wearing bulky protective equipment.
Heat exhaustion occurs when a body responds to loss of water and salt due to excessive sweating. Symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability and thirst. If you believe a co-worker is experiencing heat exhaustion, have the person lie down in a cool, shaded area and provide plenty of water to drink. You also can cool the worker with ice packs or cold compresses.
Heat stroke occurs when the body can’t regulate its core temperature and stops sweating, leaving it unable to rid itself of excess heat. It can lead to death, so heat stroke should be considered a medical emergency. Signs of heat stroke include fainting, confusion, seizures, hot and dry skin, and a high body temperature. Call 911 if you suspect heat stroke.
While waiting for emergency medical responders, OSHA recommends the following actions:
Prevention of heat stress in workers is important. Employers should provide training to workers so they understand what heat stress is, how it affects their health and safety, and how it can be prevented.
Contact us today if you would like to schedule a Heat Stress training course.
Below are some great tools you can utilize to help prevent Heat Stress:
OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool App A useful resource for planning outdoor work activities based on how hot it feels throughout the day.
NIOSH Prevent Heat Related Illness Poster[PDF- 57 KB] Basic reminders for workers exposed to heat and hot environments.
NIOSH Fast Facts: Protecting Yourself from Heat Stress Print or order this free card for easy access to important safety information.
NIOSH Infographic: Protect your workers from Heat Stress Learn some tips to protect workers including: acclimatization, rest breaks, and fluid recommendations.