Health Hazards » Heat Stresses

Heat stresses to workers are created by a combination of factors: temperature, high humidity, physical activity, general state of health, medications, and amount and type of clothing worn.

Heat Stroke:

This is a serious medical condition that requires immediate attention. It occurs when the body is unable to control its temperature. The body's temperature rises rapidly, sweating is diminished or absent, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature could rise to 106° F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes.

Warning signs:

  • Red, hot, dry skin
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Body temperature 105 F or higher
  • Confusion (talking or acting)
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling sick to your stomach
  • Passed out or unconscious

Heat Exhaustion:

This is caused by loss of large amounts of fluid by sweating and sometimes with excessive loss of salt. People working and exercising in a hot environment are prone to heat exhaustion.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Dizziness/light headed
  • Weakness
  • Heavy sweating
  • Pale skin color
  • Feeling sick to your stomach
  • Vomiting (throwing up)
  • Irritability
  • Fainting
  • Moist, clammy skin

Heat Cramps:

These usually occur after prolonged exposure to heat. It affects people who sweat a lot during strenuous activity. The body is depleted of salt and moisture. The decreased salt causes painful cramps in the abdomen and other muscles.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Muscle pains or spasms, in abdomen, arms or legs
  • Sick feeling in the stomach
  • Provide education to the workers regarding heat-induced illnesses.

  • Introduce workers to working conditions in high temperatures gradually (seven to 14 days to adapt).

  • Plan the majority of work in the early morning or late afternoon.

  • Allow frequent breaks.

  • Have workers drink adequate amounts of cool (not ice cold) liquids, a small cup every 20 minutes.

  • Encourage workers to avoid drinking lots of caffeinated beverages or alcohol.

  • Instruct workers to eat frequently in small amounts.

  • Encourage physical fitness in workers.

  • Instruct workers to wear cotton layered clothing.

  • Stress the importance of working in pairs.