Safety share: How to prevent heat stress
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), many heat-related problems can be avoided.
Modify working conditions
You may need to make adjustments to your work environment to reduce exposure to heat.
- Use air conditioning as much as possible.
- Use air-conditioned equipment like crane or construction equipment cabs.
- Have air conditioning in break rooms.
- Increase the general ventilation with fans or cooling fans.
- Use reflective shields to redirect radiant heat.
- Insulate hot surfaces (such as furnace walls).
- Eliminate steam leaks.
Recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses
- Heat stroke, the most serious form of heat-related illness, happens when the body is unable to regulate its core temperature. Sweating stops and the body can no longer rid itself of excess heat. Some signs of heat stroke are: confusion, loss of consciousness and seizures.
- Heat stroke is a medical emergency ! Call 9-1-1 immediately.
- Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to loss of water and salt from heavy sweating. Signs include headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, thirst and heavy sweating.
- Heat cramps are caused by the loss of body salts and fluid during sweating. Low salt levels in muscles cause painful cramps. You might experience cramps during or after working hours.
- Heat rash, also known as prickly heat, is skin irritation caused by sweat that does not evaporate from the skin. Heat rash is the most common problem in hot work environments.
If you or a co-worker are experiencing signs of heat stress, dial 9-1-1 from land lines or 1-630-252-1911 from cell phones and report it to your supervisor.
How to help
- OSHA has a streamlined chart of symptoms and first aid actions for heat-related illness.
- Check the information on the Heat Stress page on Inside Argonne.
Additional information is available in this safety share, courtesy of Katherine Obmascik (BIS-BTC). Please print this information and use it to help kick off a team discussion at your next meeting with colleagues and/or staff.
Each month a safety share submitted by an individual will be selected to receive a Spot Award for demonstrated safety leadership. The Spot Award program offers three award levels: gold ($100), silver ($50) and bronze ($25).