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Safety Nugget Week of May 22 - Heat Related Illness< Back to Blog

May 23, 2017
By: M. Cavett
Categories: Safety

HEAT RELATED ILLNESS

 

We are approaching the hottest months of the year.  The risk of heat related illness is increasing. It is important to remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day.  A rule of thumb is to drink 4 cups of water every hour.  Also, it is important to take frequent breaks in shaded and/or air conditioned areas. The graphic below is taken from osha and displays the common symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  However, each person is different, so they may not show all of the symptoms.  If there is every any question about possible heat stroke, call 911.

The risk of heat related illness increases not only with temperature but also humidity. The body cools via evaporation of water while sweating.  The evaporation process slows down the more humid the conditions are.  If possible, schedule the more physically rigorous jobs in the cooler hours of the day.  

Another item to remember, is to wear sunscreen.  Skin cancer is one of the leading types of cancers diagnosed, and many of the cases can be prevented.  If possible wear long sleeves, pants, large brimmed hats, and sun glasses.  The highest risk times for excessive UV radiation exposure is 10 AM to 4 PM. 

Graphic was taken from https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html

 

Illness

Symptoms

First Aid*

Heat stroke

  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Excessive sweating or red, hot, dry skin
  • Very high body temperature
  • Call 911

While waiting for help:

  • Place worker in shady, cool area
  • Loosen clothing, remove outer clothing
  • Fan air on worker; cold packs in armpits
  • Wet worker with cool water; apply ice packs, cool compresses, or ice if available
  • Provide fluids (preferably water) as soon as possible
  • Stay with worker until help arrives

Heat exhaustion

  • Cool, moist skin
  • Heavy sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Light headedness
  • Weakness
  • Thirst
  • Irritability
  • Fast heart beat
  • Have worker sit or lie down in a cool, shady area
  • Give worker plenty of water or other cool beverages to drink
  • Cool worker with cold compresses/ice packs
  • Take to clinic or emergency room for medical evaluation or treatment if signs or symptoms worsen or do not improve within 60 minutes.
  • Do not return to work that day

Heat cramps

  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain
  • Usually in abdomen, arms, or legs
  • Have worker rest in shady, cool area
  • Worker should drink water or other cool beverages
  • Wait a few hours before allowing worker to return to strenuous work
  • Have worker seek medical attention if cramps don't go away

Heat rash

  • Clusters of red bumps on skin
  • Often appears on neck, upper chest, folds of skin
  • Try to work in a cooler, less humid environment when possible
  • Keep the affected area dry

* Remember, if you are not a medical professional, use this information as a guide only to help workers in need.

Table is taken from https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatstress/heat_illnesses.html

 

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