EHS Topic of the Month: Heat Stress

Posted By: Martha Guimond Health & Safety,

Exposure to heat can cause illness and death. The most serious heat illness is heat stroke. There are precautions that should be taken any time temperatures are high and the job involves physical work. 

worker in blaze orange vest wiping sweat from his forehead

Risk Factors for Heat Illness
  • High temperature and humidity, direct sun exposure, no breeze or wind
  • Low liquid intake
  • Heavy physicaI labor
  • Waterproof clothing
  • No recent exposure to hot workplaces
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
  • Headache, dizziness, or fainting
  • Weakness and wet skin
  • Irritability or confusion
  • Thirst, nausea, or vomiting
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
  • May be confused, unable to think clearly, pass out, collapse, or have seizures
  • May stop sweating

worker sitting down and drinking a bottle of waterTo Prevent Heat Illness...
  • Provide training about the hazards leading to heat stress and how to prevent them.
  • Provide a lot of cool water to workers close to the work area. At least one pint of water per hour is needed.
Be sure your heat stress program includes:
  • Training of both employees and supervisors to recognize heat stress symptoms and what to do for heat stress illness victims
  • Necessary equipment or materials to respond to heat stress illness
  • A program to acclimate new or returning employees to high heat jobs
  • Access or relief from high heat as needed
  • Screening for potential health conditions that could aggravate heat illness
  • Provision of water or hydrating fluids
  • An emergency response program ready for heat related illness