IDGsupply.com: Heat Stress Awareness

During these blistering summer months, it is imperative that you stay cool and well hydrated when working in a hot environment.  The term “heat illness” is a serious medical condition resulting from the body’s inability to cope with a particular heat load. Heat stress may not seem like something to take seriously, but if left untreated, it can lead to heat stroke and possibly death.

Identifying Heat Stress

Know the warning signs of heat stress: it includes heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat syncope and heat stroke. Humans have to acclimate to heat-related working conditions. This means a “temporary” adaptation of the body to work in the heat that occurs gradually when a person is exposed to it. According to information from OSHA, acclimatization peaks in most people within 4 to 14 days of regular work for at least 2 hours per day in the heat.

Symptoms of heat-related illnesses include:

  • Weakness or giddiness
  • Normal or slightly higher body temperature
  • Pale, clammy skin (sometimes flushed)
  • Mental confusion
  • Delirium
  • Body temperature of 106 degrees F or higher
  • Hot, dry skin, usually red or bluish color
  • Prickly heat, which may occur in hot and humid environments where sweat can’t evaporate easily, causing rashes with small pink or red bumps and itching
  • Loss of consciousness or fainting

Stay hydrated. Cool water and electrolyte replacement beverages that replace sugar and sodium depleted through perspiration are best.

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Preventing Dehydration

Dehydration results in less perspiration so the body cannot get rid of heat fast enough causing increased heat load. The most critical aspect of heat-stress prevention is fluid intake. In the course of a day, a worker may produce up to two to three gallons of sweat. Because so many heat disorders involve excessive dehydration of the body, it is essential that water intake during the workday be about equal to the amount of sweat produced.

Education of employees is the most critical element in reducing heat stress related accidents in the workplace. When workers and supervisors do not take into account the effects that heat stress can have on the body, dangerous events can take place. Reduction in cognitive function, attention span and visual motor tracking all can lead to mistakes that could have tragic consequences.

…Keeping the body hydrated is the golden rule of combating heat stress…

NIOSH recommends workers drink 5 to 7 ounces of fluids every 15 to 20 minutes. Cool water and electrolyte replacement beverages that replace sugar and sodium depleted through perspiration are best. Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages should be avoided because they cause the body to lose water.

Consuming large or heavy meals during or before work can increase an employee’s susceptibility to heat-stress injury. Eat lighter meals more frequently. Avoid high-protein foods, which have been shown to increase metabolic heat.

“One extra caution to employers — remember that no two employees are the same … When it comes to heat stress, workers should be dealt with as individuals, not as groups.”

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How to Cool  Down

Every year, thousands of employees become sick or perish due to heat stress. When our bodies are exposed to high temperatures, our internal temperature rises. If steps are not taken, our internal temperature continues to rise, which can lead to heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion or a more serious medical emergency known as heat stroke. Approximately 23 percent of heat loss is due to evaporation of perspiration from the skin. When a person is in a hot environment, up to 48 percent of the blood is pumped by the heart to the skin for cooling. The first effect is to release heat, but water also is released through perspiration. If an individual loses 2 percent of body weight due to perspiring, that person is considered to be in a heat-exhausted state.

Click on the following links to see the electrolyte replacement beverage products offered on IDGsuppply.com.

SqwincherGatoradeIgloo

Clothing to Keep you Cool

The use of Protective Cooling Clothing and Personal Protective Equipment is a great way to help maintain a safe core body temperature.

  • Cooling pads or towels can be inserted into hardhats or around the neck to keep the head and neck cool.
  • Vented hardhats or neckbands soaked in cold water can be used to minimize prolonged heat exposure and prevent the body from overheating.
  • Wear protective eyewear that features sufficient ventilation or anti-fog lens coating to reduce lens fogging from the heat.
  • Sweatbands and Cooling Hats can be used to prevent perspiration from dripping into the eyes.
  • A Cooling Vest can be used under HazMat/Chemical protective clothing to keep a constant cool temperature.

The following links show cooling products IDG has available for it’s customers.

LakelandErgodyne

If heat stress symptoms occur, take the following steps: 

  • Stop physical activity and relax in a cool place.
  • Drink plenty of fluids rich in salts and electrolytes to replace moisture loss through sweating.
  • Use cool compresses to decrease temperature.
  • In the event of suspected heat stroke, call 911.

Remember that prevention is better than a cure.

Watch this great video by Sqwincher on the dangers of heat stress and how to avoid it.

 

Tips on Preventable Measures

Heat stress is not limited to the outdoors. It can actually be hotter indoors in factories and enclosed places with heat-producing equipment.

One way to reduce or eliminate heat stress is to combat the heat with engineering controls. As workers perform job tasks, their bodies produce heat. The amount of heat produced during hard, steady work is much higher than when the work is intermittent or light. By ensuring a constant exchange of heat between a worker and the environment, a core body temperature of 98.6 F can be maintained, which is critical for the body to function properly.

“The success of any heat-stress prevention program is based strictly on the awareness of its workers.” Consequently, the comfort of cooler temperatures may increase employees’ production levels.

To keep your work force cool, create a plan and include some of the following objectives:

  • Ensure your staff is trained and knowledgeable of heat stress symptoms.
  • Stay up to date with OSHA and CDC recommendations and implement their tips to prevent heat stress in your workplace.
  • Strive to provide a comfortable work environment.
  • Choose cost-effective equipment that will keep your employees cool.
  • Use fans or air conditioning to stay cool.
  • Block direct sun or other heat sources.
  • Drink plenty of fluids rich in salts and electrolytes to replace moisture loss through sweating.

Click Here to large see the supply of fans IDG offers.

“The more information and tools workers have in terms of prevention, the more effective they will be at dealing with the heat.”

Monitor yourself and coworkers. If you’re not accustomed to the heat, move around instead of standing still to reduce the likelihood of fainting. Wear lightweight, light colored, loose-fitting  breathable clothing such as cotton. A change of clothing – especially socks or a fresh t-shirt – can provide a welcome break and help you feel refreshed. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water and/or electrolyte beverages.