Guarding Against Heat Stress Improves Productivity And Safety

In a hot and humid environment, the human body must work hard to maintain a healthy temperature.  But when the element of physical exertion is added, as is the case with outdoor work, the affects of heat are compounded which can result in rapid dehydration leading to heat stress.  
 
Heat stress can affect productivity as well as safety since it affects both the mental and physical performance of workers. During heat stress, the mental capacity slows and motor control is hindered which can result not only in poor work output, but if left unchecked, can cause loss of consciousness and result in fatality. 
 
There are steps than can be taken to lessen the adverse affects of working in a hot environment. Here are some solutions that can be implemented to reduce the incidence of heat stress and improve productivity: 
 
Arrange work schedule so that heavy labor in direct sunlight is completed early in the day before heat is at it's highest.
What workers wear is crucial — lightweight, light colored, loose-fitting clothing and those made to wick away sweat from the body are ideal
Wear neck shades and/or bandanas to provide relief from sun and wick sweat 
Drink plenty of fluids but avoid beverages containing caffeine or alcohol. Water is ideal as are electrolyte replacement fluids. Aim for one quart per hour over the course of the work day
Allow for frequent rest periods in a shaded or air-conditioned area
Gradually acclimate new or returning workers to working in the heat
Use a buddy system so that workers can be alert for signs/symptoms of heat stress in their co-worker and take the appropriate action.
Provide training for workers on heat illness prevention as well as what to do in case of an emergency.
Eat light meals to help in providing the energy to battle heat stress but avoid heavy meals and filling fried or processed foods which can exacerbate heat stress.