Rising Temperatures Bring Increased Risk to Lone Workers

With temperatures on the rise, the risks of heat-stress related illness are going to increase in the workplace. This is very concerning and extremely dangerous for workers that are unaware of the symptoms and conditions that can apply when working in a high-risk environment. In this article, we will look at what heat stress is, what the symptoms are, and how to properly monitor and treat potential illness and injuries.

WHAT IS HEAT STRESS?

Heat stress is a serious condition that occurs when the body temperature heats up faster than it can cool itself down. Naturally, the body sweats to cool itself, however this isn’t always enough.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety states that “Most people feel comfortable when the air temperature is between 20°C and 27°C and when the relative humidity ranges from 35 to 60%. When air temperature or humidity is higher, people feel uncomfortable. Such situations do not cause harm as long as the body can adjust and cope with the additional heat. Very hot environments can overwhelm the body’s coping mechanisms leading to a variety of serious and possibly fatal conditions.”

When exposed to extreme heat, people become at risk for either heat exhaustion, heat rashes, or heat stroke.
The effects of heat stress can vary from mild to life-threatening, which is why noticing symptoms and treating them early can be crucial to saving a life.

CAUSES OF HEAT STRESS

Some major causes of heat stress include:
• Air temperature
• Humidity
• Dehydration
• Poor health
• Physical exertion

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

The signs and symptoms of heat stress can vary depending on the severity of the condition.
Here is a list of the different types of heat stress and their symptoms (Arranged by progression of severity)

  1. Heat Cramps
    • Muscle cramps & spasms

  2. Heat Exhaustion
    • Headache
    • Fatigue
    • Nausea
    • Dizziness
    • Fainting
    • Increased heart rate

  3. Heat Stroke
    • Nausea & vomiting
    • No longer sweating
    • Confusion
    • Irregular pulse
    • Cardiac arrest

PREVENT HEAT RELATED ILLNESS – TECHNICAL GUIDELINES FOR LONE WORKERS

• Drink water every 15-20 minutes
• Take frequent breaks in shade/air-conditioned room
• Acclimatize to the environment
• Exposure limits
• Establish safety check-in procedure

Take Care out there folks!

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