Many people, particularly those who do demanding labor in hot and humid working conditions, suffer from heat stress, particularly in the summer. Workers’ health and productivity are both adversely affected by excessive heat. Rashes, cramps, tiredness, and, in the worst-case scenario, heatstroke are all symptoms of heat stress. While heat rashes and heat cramps are unpleasant, heat exhaustion is far more dangerous and requires urgent medical attention.
Heat stress has plenty of warning indicators. By observing these warning signs, workers can better regain control of the situation. Dizziness, lightheadedness, headache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are some of the warning symptoms. Redirecting blood from internal organs and muscles to the skin results in these symptoms. Dehydration results from sweating.
Most workers in Construction Industry encounter heat stress regularly since they primarily work outdoors and are susceptible to the consequences of heat stress. Therefore, to safeguard their health, OSHA 30 Construction educates the preventative measures to protect themselves in such cases and other site hazards.
How does heat stress start?
As the air and skin temperatures normalize, radiation stops working. Convection is no longer possible since the circulating air is now warm rather than cool. Conduction is not possible if there is nothing cool to contact. In addition, if the air is humid, sweat will not evaporate. Heat stress is likely at temperatures between 85 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit, with humidity levels ranging from 30 to 60%. Workers are in even more danger when the temperature goes beyond 95 degrees F and the humidity rises above 60%. Due to exposure to high temperatures workers develop heat rash, heat cramps heat exhaustion, or heat stroke which can cost workers life.
Employees should take additional efforts to prevent heat stress, especially while working in warm weather or outside. When people cannot control their internal body temperature, they become ill from it. Sweating is a natural method to cool down in hot weather. Sometimes, sweating alone isn’t enough. A very sweaty workout, excessive heat, and little to no ventilation are examples of such scenarios. Medical conditions and medications may also reduce a person’s tolerance to heat.
- When sweat glands are not functioning freely, it causes skin discomfort. Wear clothes that allow sweat to evaporate and take frequent breaks to help your skin dry and so prevent heat stress.
- Dehydration results from perspiration. Salt deficiency causes muscle spasms and cramps. Drinking water and salt refills will assist you.
- Symptoms such as weariness, headache, dizziness, and nausea can occur when a considerable volume of fluid (and sometimes salt) is lost. You’ll want to stay hydrated, replace salt, and rest frequently. Heat exhaustion can be a sign of impending heat stroke.
- Excessive heat raises the human body’s temperature considerably. If it gets too high, the body’s natural cooling process fails. It also results in dried skin and skin burns. In this situation, first-aid should be administered immediately. Move the victim to a cool environment and fan vigorously until help arrives.
Prevention from Heat Stress
Heat stress can be lessened with several measures. Knowing the signs and symptoms of heat stress provides the opportunity to take action. Also, in outdoor workplaces, it is better to work in teams rather than individually. This will ensure that if a worker suffers from heat stress, there will be someone available to help. Having a regular outdoor exercise routine can also be very beneficial for combatting heat stress. Such activities allow our bodies to acclimatize to warm weather allows them to better cope with excessive heat conditions.
Drinking plenty of cool water throughout the day can help to mitigate the effects of heat and humidity. At outdoor workplaces, workers should be allowed to take periodic breaks and shade should be provided. Wearing appropriate clothing also helps in coping with the heat. Loose and light-colored clothing help one keep cool. Loose clothing allows air circulation to the body, while light colors do not absorb a lot of heat and help keep body temperatures cool.
What we consume also has an impact on our body temperatures. Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages should be avoided before or during work hours, as they cause dehydration. Drinking water is the best way to keep ourselves hydrated. So a healthy daily water intake will help cope with heat stress.
Take your time adjusting to the heat and humidity. A heatwave strains your body. Reduce your exercise until you get used to the heat, and you will have more stamina. Adjusting to difficult conditions may take days or weeks. Gradual adaptation increases workers’ capacity to sweat, which cools the body and helps maintain a stable temperature.
Headache, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, weakness, malaise, mood change, mental disorientation, and nausea or vomiting are all symptoms of heat-related sickness. If you display any of these symptoms, go to the hospital immediately.
To conclude the final thoughts, it is advised that workers complete their OSHA 30 training to learn the skills that should be incorporated to protect their health and safety.