So many people can be exposed to heat on the job. Especially outdoor operations conducted in extreme heat and direct sun, such as farm work, construction, oil and gas well operations, landscaping, emergency response, and hazardous waste site activities, increase the risk of heat-related illness in workers. Every year thousands become over heated. These illnesses are preventable.
A person working in a hot environment must get rid of excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature. It does this through circulating blood to the skin by sweating. When the air temperature is close to or warmer than normal body temp, cooling of the body becomes more difficult. Blood circulated to the skin cannot lose its heat. Sweating is only effective if the humidity level is low enough to allow evaporation, and if the fluids and salts that are lost are replaced.
If the body cannot get rid of excess heat it stores it. When this happens, the body’s core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. As the body continues to store heat, the person begins to lose concentration and it can become difficult to focus, and they can become sick and may lose the desire to drink. After this stage, fainting can occur if the body cannot cool down. Excessive exposure to heat can be extremely harmful: Dizziness, heat rashes, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and worst of all, heat strokes (which can even lead to death).
Employers of workers who may be exposed to extreme heat should take precautions:
· Watch out for symptoms of overly exposed or heat exhausted workers!
· Air conditioning or better ventilation to make the work area cooler
· Work/rest cycles
· Drinking water OFTEN
· Providing workers the opportunity to build up a tolerance to extreme heat
· Prevention steps included in a training for workers
· Have an emergency plan ready in the event of a major heat event
Heat 1.pdf Heat 2.pdf