Aug 13 2019

Heat and the Workplace

Today was one of the hottest days of the year- now it’s time take necessary precautions on heat exhaustion if you haven't already.

Heat exhaustion is a serious illness resulting from exposure to hot, humid conditions, and it’s often accompanied by dehydration. Without swift intervention, heat exhaustion can progress into heat stroke, which can have serious implications on vital organs and even result in death.

OSHA says, “In 2015 alone, 2,830 workers suffered from heat illness and 37 died from heat stroke and related causes while on the job. Heat illnesses and heat related deaths are preventable.”

In fact, under OSHA law, employers are responsible for providing workplaces free of known safety hazards - and extreme heat is considered a safety hazard. An employer with workers exposed to high temperatures should establish a complete heat illness prevention program. If you don’t have a heat illness prevention program, we can help you establish one specific to your company’s needs.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion include:
- Confusion
- Dark colored urine
- Dizziness
- Fainting
- Fatigue
- Headache
- Muscle or abdominal cramps
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Pale skin
- Profuse sweating
- Rapid heartbeat
- Elevated body-core temperatures.

Identifying and Treating Heat Exhaustion

If you, or anyone else, have symptoms of heat exhaustion, it's essential to remove excess clothing and immediately get out of the heat, preferably in an air-conditioned room. If you can't get inside, try to find the nearest cool and shady place. If the core temperature is elevated use ice bags or fans to help with cooling. If such measures fail to provide relief within 15 minutes, seek emergency medical help, because untreated heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke.

Remember, after you have recovered from heat exhaustion, you will likely be more sensitive to high temperatures during the following weeks or months.

Working or Exercising In the Heat

Planning on exercising outside or working in your yard? Here are a few preventative measures to keep you safe for heat illness:

- Consume 17 to 20 fl. oz. of water 2 to 3 hours before exercise and strenuous work.
- Continue to drink water every 15 minutes - even if you don’t feel thirsty.
- Heat acclimatization (adapted to exercising in the heat)
- Do not wear excessive or dark-colored clothing.
- Monitor your urine color (clear to light yellow is preferred).
- Make sure to maintain a less than 2% body-weight change.

If you need help protecting your employees, please contact us. As an Athletic Trainer who specializes in the Workplace, I am a uniquely qualified resource.

Be safe out there, and enjoy the remaining days of summer!
Beth Goodwin

Athletic Trainer