Do you ever need to work outside during hot weather? Workers exposed to extreme heat are threatened by heat stress, a condition including multiple heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash.
Injuries are also a symptom of extreme heat. Sweaty palms, fogged-up glasses, and dizziness brought on by heat can all lead to dangerous accidents on the job.
Read on to learn more about heat stress symptoms and prevention and find out how suffering a heat-related injury or health issue like heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps or heat rash may lead to a valid workers’ compensation claim.
Heat Stress, Heat Stroke, Heat Exhaustion, Heat Cramps, Heat Rash – What’s the Difference?
“Heat stress” or “heat illness” are blanket terms including conditions like heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash.
Before trying to prevent or treat extreme heat conditions, you need to learn what they are and how they differ:
The most severe heat-related injury is heat stroke. When experiencing heat stroke, your body’s temperature will rise rapidly, but won’t sweat. Which means you won’t be able to cool down. If left untreated, heat stroke can be fatal or cause permanent disability. Symptoms of Heat stroke include confusion, coma, hot and dry skin, profuse sweating, seizures, and high body temperature.
Heat cramps are a real possibility for people who are very active in hot weather. Usually caused by lots of sweating, heat cramps are also the result of a loss of water and salt. If salt levels in muscles get too low it can cause painful cramps. Symptoms of heat cramps include Muscle cramps, pain, or spasms in the abdomen, arms, or legs.
Heat exhaustion happens when the body has lost too much water and salt and is usually caused by excessive sweating. Although heat exhaustion sounds similar to heat cramps, it is a more serious condition. Specific groups are more susceptible: the elderly, those with high blood pressure, and people who work in extreme heat. Heat exhaustion symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, thirst, heavy sweating, elevated body temperature, and decreased urine output.
Excessive sweat can also cause heat rash, also sometimes called prickly heat. Heat rash is an irritation of the skin marked by red clusters of pimples or small blisters in areas such as the neck or upper chest.
Who’s Likely to Face Heat Stroke, Heat Exhaustion or Other Heat Stress Issues?
People who work in some professions are more at risk of experiencing heat stress conditions like heat rash, heat cramps, heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Firefighters, bakery workers, farmers, construction workers, miners, boiler room workers, factory workers, and landscapers are particularly susceptible.
Along with workers frequently exposed to heat, other groups may be at higher risk of heat-related illness and injury like heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Being over age 65 or overweight can make someone more susceptible to extreme heat, which not only can increase risk of suffering a heat-related injury or health issue, but it can also lead to more severe symptoms. Certain preexisting medical conditions like heart disease or high blood pressure and even some medications may also increase likelihood of experiencing heat stress.
During warmer months, employees who may not usually be in danger of experiencing a heat-related injury can become more exposed to the potential hazards of hot working climates.
It’s vital to take preventive steps while working in hazardous temperatures and seek medical treatment or first-aid when you recognize potential symptoms of heat stress.
What Can I Do to Prevent Illness and Injury During Hot Weather?
Fortunately, whether you work a high-risk job, have a condition that makes you more vulnerable, or are preparing to work in hotter than normal weather conditions, heat stress prevention is simple.
- Train your employees. It’s important employees know how to handle heat hazards. Firstly, make sure employees know if they are facing any job-specific threats. Learning about the different heat-related illnesses and how to recognize them in themselves and other workers could end up preventing disaster. Employers should also explain how to contact emergency medical services and perform first-aid.
- Keep an eye out for each other. Preventing heat stress is best accomplished in teams or via a buddy system. While working in the heat, look out for signs of heat-related illness or injury in yourself and your coworkers.
- Water. Rest. Shade. The best heat stress prevention technique is to hydrate and rest. OSHA’s heat illness prevention campaign “Water. Rest. Shade.” explains it best. Drinking when you’re thirsty isn’t enough; OSHA recommends drinking one cup (8 ounces) of water every 20 minutes while working in the heat. Employers should provide cool water and, for longer jobs (those that last over 2 hours), drinks with electrolytes such as sports drinks. Employers should also enforce frequent breaks, preferably in a cool or shaded area such as an air-conditioned vehicle or under a tent.
- Dress appropriately. To prevent over-heating, wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing. Also, wide-brim hats will protect the face, neck, and ears. Such protection from the sun can contribute to preventing heat stress and its accompanying symptoms.
Keches Law can Help if Your Work Conditions led to Heat Stress
If you were injured on the job due to hot weather, you might be entitled to receive workers’ compensation for heat stress.
Contact Keches Law Group’s skilled and experienced workers’ compensation lawyers can assist you.