Summertime can put employees at risk for heat illness. High temperatures and humidity, direct sun or heat, limited air movement, physical exertion, poor physical condition, and some medicines are contributing factors to heat illness.
When the body is unable to cool itself by sweating, heat-induced illness such as heat stress, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke can quickly worsen and eventually cause death. Symptoms range from mild and easily correctable to severe and life-threatening, if not immediately addressed.
Many heat-related deaths are preventable when employees recognize the symptoms and know what to do. Watch out for these signs of heat illness:
- Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating;
- Confusion or dizziness;
- Nausea or vomiting;
- Rapid pulse;
- Muscle cramps;
- Weakness or fatigue; and
Employees must immediately notify their supervisor and call 911 if they experience signs of heat-related illness. Employees can also be proactive and beat the heat with these tips:
- Hydrate before, during, and after work. Prevention is important — drink at least 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes.
- Dress appropriately for the weather. On warm days, wear light-colored, loose-fitting, and breathable clothing to keep your body temperature down.
- Use the shade to stay cool. When possible, use shaded areas to stay out of direct sunlight.
— Safety and OSHA Compliance Programs,
Employee Resource Management, 6-7-18