Recognition and prevention of heat stress

As summer approaches, it’s time to think more about heat precautions in the workplace.

As outdoor temperatures rise during the summer months, industrial facilities can face major challenges in controlling indoor temperatures. Excessively hot working conditions not only endanger the health of employees, but they can also lead to compliance and insurance issues, as well as facilitate product-damaging errors. Since the accelerated growth of e-commerce only increases these problems by accelerating the pace of employee activity, establishments should take steps to ensure a comfortable and cool workplace this summer.

Fortunately, there are several solutions for controlling indoor air quality and temperature, ranging from high volume, low speed fans (HVLS) and fabric curtain walls to loading dock seals and duct systems. Fabric. These products can help control the environment, as well as isolate air-conditioned and unconditioned work areas, helping to reduce the potential for heat stress and its negative spillover effects on the organization.

Signs of heat stress

Heat stress can present itself in a variety of ways, and although some are less serious, they are all potentially dangerous. The milder forms are heat fatigue, in which workers begin to lose focus and performance irregularly, and rashes, which occur when sweat ducts become blocked and the skin becomes restless and sore. Heat stress can also cause heat cramps in the back, arms, legs, and abdomen. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance caused by prolonged sweating are usually the causes.

More serious risks include heat exhaustion, heat syncope (fainting), and heat stroke. Heat syncope causes a person to pass out because the pool of blood in the lower extremities and dilated vessels in the skin results in low blood pressure. Heat exhaustion can occur individually or as part of syncope. Common symptoms include not only fainting, but also diarrhea, nausea, and disorientation. The most serious thermal disorder is heat stroke, which occurs when the body’s temperature-regulating systems fail and the body’s internal heat reaches deadly levels. Warning signs include confusion, fainting, seizures, and / or no sweating. If a worker experiences heat stroke, he or she should receive medical treatment in a hospital.

This article originally appeared in the June 1, 2021 issue of Occupational Health and Safety.

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