An overview on heat stress, how to spot and prevent it at work.
Published 8 Sep 2022
Heat stress is the effect of heat load on a worker’s body from exposure to a combination of factors such as the environment, metabolic heat, and clothing. Heat stress causes the body to lose the ability to control heat and can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
There are various causes of heat stress which can be categorized into 3 sources:
People that have heat stress will commonly experience heat rash, muscle cramps, and severe thirst. Other symptoms include:
If heat stress is left untreated, it can lead to illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. The two heat-related illnesses have different symptoms, which are:
When heat exhaustion develops into heat stroke, call for medical help as soon as possible. What you can do: Move the worker to a cooler place, remove clothing, wet the person’s skin, apply cold wet cloths to the body, and anything to reduce the worker’s temperature before the ambulance arrives. The symptoms of heat stroke include:
Prevent heat stress in the workplace by ensuring that the environmental factors, metabolic heat (physical activity), and clothing are monitored. Here are some guidelines employers can adopt for their workers:
To supplement existing requirements, OSHA is developing a new heat standard to include indoor workers who are not in climate controlled environments. OSHA highly suggests to keep the temperature between 68-78°F (20-25°C). Companies should have the initiative to develop plans to prevent heat stress and other illnesses due to hazardous heat conditions.
Employers can start their heat control programs by using digital tools and incorporating heat exposure checklists. The template can be used during toolbox talks, an essential tool most commonly used by the construction industry. All of these are possible with the leading health and safety app, iAuditor by SafetyCulture.
iAuditor features for heat control include:
The iAuditor smart sensor is a tool that can monitor temperature, humidity, and other air factors. This tool can be directly connected to the iAuditor app which can streamline processes of your heat control plan and be used during heat stress inspections.
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