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Heat-Related Illness

Heat-related illnesses can be very dangerous if not taken seriously. As temperatures rise, so does the risk of heat-related illnesses. It’s important for employers to train employees on signs of heat-related illnesses so that they can be aware if they, or others, are experiencing these symptoms.

Know the signs

It’s important for workers to be aware of heat illnesses and their symptoms. The types of heat illness are heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramp and heat rash. These can cause various symptoms such as confusion, weakness, rash, dizziness, etc. Being familiar with the symptoms of a heat stroke is vital since delayed treatment can be fatal. Workers may be suffering from a heat stroke when there are signs of confusion, altered mental state, slurred speech, loss of consciousness or high body temperatures.

If a worker is experiencing a heat stroke, this is an emergency. Call 911 immediately! While you wait for assistance, follow these procedures:

  • Move the worker to a cool area and remove outer clothing.
  • Cool worker with water, cold compresses, an ice bath or fans.
  • Circulate air around worker to speed cooling.
  • Place cold, wet clothes or ice on head, neck, armpits and groin.
  • Stay with worker until emergency medical services arrive.

Risk factors

Employees who primarily work outside are at a much higher risk of exposure to these illnesses. Making sure workers have a good balance between time outdoors and indoors or in the shade can help prevent these issues.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), some of the risk factors of heat-related illnesses include high temperatures with no breeze or wind, heavy physical outdoor labor, low liquid intake, etc.

Beat the heat!

Did you know that nearly three out of four fatalities of heat-related illness happen on an employee’s first week of work? It’s very important to ease employees into the work and share the tips below to prevent heat-related illnesses.

  • Drink lots of water to keep hydrated.
  • Take frequent breaks and rest.
  • Work or rest in the shade if available.
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing.
  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar.