As Summer Heats Up, Be Aware of Heat Hazards
Summer is here and with that comes the long scorching hot days. Many people’s careers expose them to heat on the job whether it is outdoor or hot indoor environments. Jobs that take place in high temperatures, high humidity, direct physical contact with hot objects, or strenuous physical activities have a high chance to harm its employees with heat related illnesses. Every year, thousands of workers become ill from their jobs being exposed to heat for long periods of time, and some have even died. However, this can be prevented!
Why is Heat a Hazard?
When a job is located in a hot environment, the workers body must get rid of excess heat to maintain a stable internal body temperature. In order to maintain our internal body temperature, our body sweats in addition to circulating blood to the skin. However, when air temperatures are close to or warmer than our normal body temperature, cooling the body becomes more difficult. This is when heat exposure in the work force becomes dangerous for our health. When the body cannot get rid of excess heat, it begins to store it. What this means is the body’s core temperature rises along with the heart rate. If the body stores too much heat, the person can begin to lose concentration, become irritable or sick, and can lead to fainting or even death if the person is not cooled down.
How to know when it is too hot
Some ways to figure out when it is just too hot is to be aware of your environmental surroundings. Here are some signs:
- Temperature rising fast
- Humidity increase
- Sun’s UV rises
- Little to no air movement
These are just a few of the many signs that you should prepare yourself for the heat. A useful tool to use that takes both temperature and humidity into account is the heat index. If you are an outdoor worker, we strongly suggest using the heat index to prepare yourself for your long day of work in the sun.
Prevention of Heat-Related Illness
Some ways to prevent yourself or your employees from suffering from heat-related illnesses in the summer months are:
- installing air conditioning and ventilation
- Have break cycles to drink water often to build up a tolerance to work in the heat
- Look out for symptoms of heat related illness in yourself and others
If you’re beginning a career that involves working outside in hot weather conditions, make sure you are set for the worst conditions so you can help prevent your health from being harmed. Remember to stay hydrated and take periodic breaks in shaded areas. If you begin to feel lightheaded, dizzy, weak, nauseous or suffer from headaches, move to a cooler place, sit down and drink some water.