Society of Safety Engineer Offer Tips To Prevent Heat Illness

22 Jun

Each year, thousands of outdoor workers experience heat illness, which often manifests as heat exhaustion. If not quickly addressed, heat exhaustion can become heat stroke.

To prevent heat-related work injuries and illnesses, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) suggests employers and employees take safety precautions and be aware of factors that can lead to heat stress, the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, ways to prevent heat stress, and what can be done for heat-related illnesses.

Each year, thousands of outdoor workers experience heat illness, which often manifests as heat exhaustion. If not quickly addressed, heat exhaustion can become heat stroke.

“Heat and humidity are a serious safety threat to workers during the summer—from utility workers, to agriculture, construction, firefighters, roadway workers, and more,” said ASSE President Terrie S. Norris, CSP, ARM. “People should heed the heat warnings and act quickly when they begin to feel any heat-related symptoms.”

ASSE warns one should be cautious when one’s body is unable to cool itself by sweating. Body temperatures can rise to dangerous levels if precautions are not taken. Factors leading to these conditions include high temperatures, being in direct sun or heat, limited air movement, physical exertion, poor physical condition, some medicines, using bulky protective clothing and equipment, and inadequate tolerance for hot workplaces.

OSHA officials note that symptoms of heat stroke include dry, hot skin with no sweating; mental confusion or losing consciousness; and seizures or convulsions. To prevent heat stress, officials suggest you monitor your co-workers and yourself. Prevention efforts include blocking out direct sun or other heat sources; using cooling fans or air conditioning; resting regularly; and wearing lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Drinking a lot of water, about one cup every 15 minutes, is important. 

Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution, some suggested tips for employees and employers to use in order to prevent heat-related illnesses and injuries include:

  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing such as cotton.
  • Take breaks in cool, shaded areas.
  • To prevent dehydration, drink cool water and avoid diuretics such as coffee, tea, alcohol, or soda, as these can deplete body fluid.
  • Be aware that acclimatization to working in heat is important, as most serious heat illness occurs when employees first begin working outdoors, or when heat and humidity suddenly increase above levels workers’ have been used to.

 The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that heat is the number one weather-related killer in the U.S., noting excessive heat claims more lives each year than floods, lightning, tornadoes, and hurricanes combined. NOAA provides additional detail on how heat impacts the human body at “The Hazards of Excessive Heat”http://www.noaawatch.gov/themes/heat.php

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: