Protecting Workers from Heat Stress Working in the heat and doing heavy physical work can affect the body’s cooling system. If your body is unable to cool itself, you can experience heat stress. This Safety Talk is to raise awareness of workplace hazards that can cause heat stress. There are precautions you should take any time temperatures are high and when the job involves physical work. The following safety information will provide you with training on assessing hazards that could lead to heat stress and instruct on implementing control measures to prevent heat stress.
The following are identified as hazards for heat illness
- High temperature and humidity, direct sun exposure, no breeze or wind
- Low liquid intake
- Heavy physical labor
- Waterproof clothing
- No recent exposure to hot workplaces
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
- Headache, dizziness, or fainting
- Weakness and wet skin
- Irritability or confusion
- Thirst, nausea, or vomiting
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
- May be confused, unable to think clearly, pass out, collapse, or have seizures.
- May stop sweating.
Implement the following safe work procedures to eliminate or reduce heat stress:
- Establish a complete heat illness prevention program.
- Provide training about the hazards leading to heat stress and how to prevent them.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Drink often and BEFORE you are thirsty. Drink water every 15 minutes.
- Avoid beverages containing caffeine.
- Modify work schedules and arrange frequent rest periods with water breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas.
- Gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks for workers new to the heat or those that have been away from work to adapt to working in the heat (acclimatization).
- Routinely check workers who are at risk of heat stress due to protective clothing and high temperature.
- Consider protective clothing that provides cooling.
- Wear lightweight and light colored clothes.
What to Do When a Worker is Ill from the Heat
- Call a supervisor for help.
- Have someone stay with the worker until help arrives.
- Move the worker to a cooler/shaded area.
- Fan and mist the worker with water apply ice.
- Provide cool drinking water, if able to drink