Preventing Heat Stress

Heat illness occurs when your body cannot adequately cool itself through perspiration. This happens during high-temperature and high-humidity weather, especially when you perform hard physical work under these conditions. There are several common heat-related illnesses, and some are more severe than others.

Working Safely in Hot Environments

Most of us associate heat stress with working outdoors but it can also occur while working indoors. If you do not take the right precautions when working in hot conditions, you can develop heat-related illnesses.

Heat-related illnesses:

Heat rash – Heat rash consists of a red, bumpy rash that can be itchy. It is usually not dangerous, but it can be uncomfortable. Heat rash is a sign that hot conditions are affecting your body.

Heat syncope (fainting) – sometimes heat can cause you to faint. This is called heat syncope and usually occurs when a person is not used to working in a hot environment. It is usually not dangerous and can be prevented by moving around a little rather than standing still for long periods of time in that heat.

Heat cramps – heat cramps are painful muscle cramps caused by a loss of salt when sweating. Drink electrolytes fluids to replace your body’s salt can relieve heat cramps, but severe cramps may require a visit to a medical professional.

Heat exhaustion – Heat exhaustion is more serious. It results from loss of fluid or salt – or both – through sweating. You might feel weak, dizzy or nauseous. Your skin may be clammy and your body temperature may be above normal. To treat heat exhaustion, rest in a cool place, drink sports drinks and remove any heavy clothing. If this doesn’t help and vomiting begins or there is a loss of consciousness, call for emergency assistance immediately.

Heatstroke – Heat stroke is the most dangerous type of heat illness. It occurs when the body’s natural cooling processes stop working and the ill person stops sweating. Symptoms include very hot and dry skin, confusion, convulsions, seizure and loss of consciousness. Heat stroke can cause death, so call an ambulance immediately if symptoms begin to present themselves. While you’re waiting for the ambulance, try to keep the subject cool and provide fluids if he or she is conscious.

If you see signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, immediately call Switchboard by dialing 5555 and initiating code blue or call 911.

If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to Aby Selvakumar at (Safety and IPAC Specialist, OHSW Department)