How to protect your employees from heat exhaustion

How to Protect your Employees from Heat Exhaustion

May 25 marks Heat Safety Awareness Day. Did you know that heat is number one weather related killed in the United States? Every year hundreds of thousands of workers are subjected to heat and most are not adequately protected or educated to know the signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke.

Education and Prevention are the keys to protecting your employees. Please take a few minutes to review the following information and pass it along to your employees.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion can be a serious matter in the work place and has affected thousands yearly. If not treated early, this condition can become deadly.  However, through awareness this condition can be prevented or addressed quickly without complications.

Heat Exhaustion begins when the body is lacking fluids.  Since working hard in the summer heat can cause the body to heavily perspire, dehydration can occur quickly.   There are a range of symptoms that can indicate a person is suffering from heat exhaustion.

  • Dizziness,
  • Disorientation.
  • Nausea
  • Weakness, fatigue
  • Clammy
  • Muscle cramps and headache

At this point these are indications that the person’s body temperature is rising above normal.

How to Treat Heat Exhaustion

  • The first thing to do when someone is suspected of suffering from excess heat is to quickly offer them water. 
  • Immediately get the person to sit or lie down and apply cold compresses to the skin
  • Find a shaded area to rest.

Heat Stroke

Heat Stroke

When the body is unable to cool itself down quick enough to manage the heated environment, heat stroke can occur which is a very serious condition.  Often sufferers of this condition can exhibit nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, disorientation and an elevated body temperature up to 105. A red face can indicate a rise in blood pressure.  Also a person may feel so fatigued that he/she is unable to move their limbs or entire body.  At this point, medical attention such as 911 should be summoned immediately.  Keep the person as cool as possible by applying cold compresses to the skin and move to a shady rest area while waiting for medical attention.

How to Prevent Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke in the Work place

When a job function requires employees to work in hot conditions for prolonged hours many steps must be taken to assure that the person avoids heat stress.

  • Have plenty of fluids available to drink often.
  • Schedule breaks in shaded areas often especially when doing heavy work or the heat temperature is high.
  • Allow employees time to get their bodies accustomed to heated conditions especially newer workers. This can be accomplished by setting shorter intervals in the heated areas and gradually working up to the necessary time interval needed to complete the job function. More frequent breaks can be utilized to accomplish this goal.   This “training” can allow a person to gain a heat tolerance to prevent heat illness.
  • Educating employees of the causes, symptoms and  effects of heat illnesses can also help an employer monitor this risky but preventive condition.