Summer is upon us, and employees and employers alike need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat stress in the workplace. Employee safety is everyone’s responsibility, and safety policies and procedures should be followed accordingly and taken very seriously. After all, heat stress could cause serious bodily harm. No matter if you are working in a warehouse, industrial, or office setting, heat stress can occur at any place of business, and at any point in time.
Liberty Staffing Services would like to provide you with some information about heat stress, and provide you with the necessary precautions to prevent heat stress illness in your workplace/place of business.
What is Heat Stress?
Heat stress is caused when working under hot, humid conditions, combined with physical labour, loss of fluids, fatigue, stress, or a pre-existing medical condition.
Heat stress could cause the following illnesses:
- Heat stroke: high body temperature, hot/red skin, rapid pulse, headache or dizziness, high level of confusion, and strange behaviour
- Heat rash: a red bumpy rash on the skin
- Heat exhaustion: heavy breathing, strong thirst, nausea, high body temperature, tired/weak limbs, and blurred vision
- Heat cramps: muscle cramps, usually occurring in the arms, shoulders, calves, or thighs
- Fainting: weak pulse and clammy skin
How Can I Prevent Heat Stress?
Preventing heat stress should be everyone’s number one priority, whether you are the employee or employer.
Procedures for employees:
- Take frequent breaks, and sit and drink lots of fluids
- Drink fluids every 20 minutes
- Wear breathable, light coloured clothing – clothing which allows ventilation and sweat evaporation are ideal
- Have a buddy with you – heat stress often occurs when a worker does not notice their own symptoms
- Wear sunscreen, if working outdoors
Procedures for employers:
- Educate your employees about the signs and symptoms of heat stress in the workplace
- Provide workers with a cooling station/air conditioned area
- Establish/schedule frequent breaks in cool areas
- Provide water and ice to employees
- Create a buddy system between workers
- Monitor every employee, especially in known “hot zones” in your workplace, and during high temperature peaks in the day