Heat Stress: Risk Factors, Symptoms, Prevention

The hot, hazy, humid days of summer are upon us. That means for outdoor workers, the incidence of illnesses and fatalities from heat stroke and heat exhaustion are substantially greater. But heat-related illnesses can be averted and prevented by knowing the risks, symptoms and taking precautions when planning the workday.

Be Alert for Risk factors:

  • High temperatures
  • High humidity
  • Direct sun exposure
  • Physically exerting tasks
  • Not properly acclimated to higher temps

Know the Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion/Heat Stroke:

  • Confusion, Irritability
  • Weakness
  • Wet skin
  • Thirst, nausea, vomiting
  • Cessation of sweating

Take Precautions to Prevent Heat Stress:

  • Arrange work schedule so that heavy labor in direct sunlight is completed early in the day before heat is at it's highest.
  • Wear lightweight, light colored, loose-fitting clothing
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Avoid beverages containing caffeine or alcohol.
  • 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.