Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Taking Preventative Measures to Avoid On-the-Job Heat Stress

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Taking Preventative Measures to Avoid On-the-Job Heat Stress

Article excerpt

Temperature extremes pose special problems for those who work outside or in areas that are not climate controlled. To avoid cases of heat stress and other dangers of working directly in the sun, extra caution should be taken when temperatures soar during summer months. There are steps that can be taken by both employers and workers to reduce the effects of working in the heat.

Heat stress occurs when you expose your body to more heat than it can handle. When the body's heat load exceeds the body's ability to cool itself, anyone can be affected. Results can range from prickly heat (skin rash) or muscle spasms to the more serious heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Factors that play a key role in heat stress include: humidity, radiant heat, air movement, body heat production, alcohol and drug/medication use and physical condition.

One or a combination of the following practices may be used to control heat stress:

Acclimatization -- adjusting to the heat through short exposures followed by longer periods of work in the hot environment.

Fluid intake -- drinking ample amounts of water or electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade.

Salt tablets are typically not recommended for prevention.

Engineering controls -- environmental controls such as cooling fans, spot cooling, shielding from radiant heat sources and tools to reduce manual labor.

Administrative controls -- scheduling heavier/more stressful work during cooler periods of the day, and alternating work and rest periods can help avoid heat stress.

Personal habits -- maintaining good physical condition, good diet and avoiding alcohol and drugs.

Clothing - wearing loose-fitting (if not a safety hazard), light-weight clothing in hot, humid conditions. When intense radiant heat is present, special barrier clothing (reflective suite and/or heat resistant gloves) may be necessary.

Workers should report any symptoms of heat stress to their supervisor. The more serious conditions, such as fainting, heat exhaustion or heat stroke, require immediate attention.

Fainting related to heat stress occurs when the blood supply to the brain is diverted to the skin surface in an attempt to regulate core body temperature. …

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