Doctors' Choice Physical Medicine

Heat Exhaustion Prevention In Workplace

Heat Exhaustion Months

For Schuylkill County, July and August are typically the hottest months of the year, sometimes reaching temperatures over one hundred degrees. For individuals who work in an industrial workplace, their work environment can be up to 45 degrees higher than the actual outdoor temperature. This creates a risk of suffering from heat exhaustion on a daily basis and can become potentially dangerous for workers.

Heat exhaustion is a condition caused by over exposure to heat and results in the deterioration of bodily fluids. This can cause a worker to experience such symptoms as dizziness, weakness, nausea and in some cases may cause the individual to faint or pass out. Heat exhaustion has the potential to progress to heat stroke if the body’s temperature regulation fails. The affected individual could become lethargic and possibly have a seizure, the skin stops sweating and the body temperature may exceed 106 F. This is a life threatening condition and poses great danger in workplaces in which employees are consistently operating heavy machinery. If a worker would lose consciousness, their life and the lives of their coworkers could be in great danger. There are measures you can take to aid in the prevention of heat exhaustion especially for those working in an industrial workplace with harsh working conditions.

Heat Exhaustion Prevention

Drink Lots of Water – Dehydration is a major cause of heat exhaustion. The body cools itself by sweating and allowing that sweat to evaporate. This requires enough fluid in the body to make sweat, air circulating across the skin, and low air humidity to allow that sweat to evaporate. The hotter you are, the faster your body absorbs liquids and the more water you will need in order to function properly. Always have water on hand and try to keep yourself as hydrated as possible at all times.

Take a Break – Working an entire shift without a break is sure to put you at high risk of heat exhaustion. Take a break every hour or so to ensure that you get a breath of fresh air. Separate yourself from the overly hot work area and move to a cooler environment whenever possible. Take the Night Shift – Depending on your situation, this may or may not be possible. The hottest times throughout the day are between 11 in the morning and 4 o’clock in the afternoon. That said, working during the night when temperatures are considerably lower will, of course decrease the risks of heat exhaustion.

Rest – A good night’s sleep is important for everyone and especially before a long day in an industrial workplace. Rest will energize your body and mind and will make you less likely to become weak and suffer from heat exhaustion. Seven to eight hours of sleep is recommended each night.

Eat – Like resting, eating will also provide you with the energy your body requires to fight off heat exhaustion. Make sure to take your breaks in a cool area when possible and along with your meal have small snacks available to keep you fueled for a couple more hours. Following these steps will help to decrease the chances of suffering from heat exhaustion on the job. Ignoring the symptoms can put you and your body in severe danger. If you find yourself experiencing symptoms or notice a coworker having symptoms, be sure to seek medical attention immediately. Create a safe summer working environment and stay healthy, because a vacation day is better than a sick day, any day!

If you are interested in further information on wellness, injury prevention, and treatment of injuries in the workplace for your company, please contact the workplace Injury Institute at Doctors’ Choice Physical Medicine and Rehab.  570-622-2525