Heat stress: causes, symptoms, and prevention
People working in the heat of the Australian summer face many dangers, including heat stress, dehydration, overactivity and UVA UVB sun exposure. In this blog, we hope to highlight some of these issues and offer advice on how to prevent these avoidable conditions.
Did you know that heat kills more Australians than any other natural phenomenon and the most serious form of heat stroke, heat stroke, is fatal in up to 80% of cases?
causes of heat stress
There are many factors that contribute to heat stress and heat stroke in the workplace.
- dehydration – To stay healthy, you need to keep your body temperature around 37°C. The body cools itself by sweating, which typically accounts for 70-80% of body heat loss. When a person is dehydrated, they sweat less and their body temperature continues to rise.
- lack of airflow – Working in hot, poorly ventilated, confined or confined spaces.
- exposure to direct sunlight – From 11am to 3pm on particularly hot days.
- exposure to radiant heat – Sources of radiant heat can come from machinery, fire, or industrial processes.
Symptoms of heat stress and heat stroke
By the time some of these symptoms appear, you may not be able to recognize them yourself, so you should always keep an eye on your co-workers and alert someone if you suspect someone is ill. Symptoms of common heat-related illnesses include:
Exacerbation of pre-existing medical conditions – This is the most common health problem due to heat stress.
- heat rash – Sometimes called heat rash, this is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating. It can occur at any age, but is most common in young children. They look like red blobs of pimples or small blisters. It is most likely to occur in the neck and upper chest, groin, lower chest, and elbow creases.
- heat cramps – These usually include muscle pain or cramps in the abdomen, arms, or legs. It can occur after strenuous activity in a hot environment when the body runs out of salt and water.It can also be a symptom of heat stroke.
- dizziness and fainting – Heat-related dizziness and fainting are caused by decreased blood flow to the brain. The heat increases blood flow to the skin, causing blood to pool in the legs and blood pressure to drop precipitously. You may feel light-headed before fainting.
- heatstroke ・It is a dangerous condition that develops into heat stroke. It occurs when blood volume decreases due to excessive sweating in a hot environment. Warning signs include pallor and sweating, rapid heart rate, muscle cramps (usually in the abdomen, arms, or legs), headache, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, or fainting.
- heatstroke – This is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention. Heatstroke occurs when the core body temperature rises above 40.5°C and the body’s internal systems begin to shut down. Many organs in the body have been damaged and the body temperature needs to be lowered urgently. Most people experience serious changes in the central nervous system, such as delirium, coma, and seizures. People may stagger, appear confused, have a seizure, collapse, and lose consciousness. It can damage the liver, kidneys, muscles, and heart, as well as affect the nervous system.
- hydration – In hot weather, you need to drink more water, no matter how active you are or if you are not thirsty.
- plan your day – If you can’t avoid work during the hottest part of the day, plan a break. Avoid heavy exercise before or after work as it can exacerbate dehydration.
- Get a break – Plan your breaks and make sure you and your colleagues take breaks.
- looking for shade – Whenever possible, if you don’t have a share naturally, make some with a tent or tarp. Sitting in a car isn’t the best source of shade because UV rays still penetrate the side and rear windows.
- maintain energy levels – Eat small, frequent meals and stick to cold (non-freezing) foods such as sandwiches and salads.
- check in on someone else – Many people don’t like to complain when they get sick. If you suspect a colleague is dying of heat stroke, raise your concerns with your manager.
Dress appropriately and protect yourself – If you’re going to be working outdoors for even part of the day, don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun. Cover exposed skin with lightweight clothing designed to protect you from the sun and heat. Use sunscreen and reapply regularly. Wear a hat and sunglasses that cover your ears and neck.
Elliott Quality Safety Equipment We offer a range of products specially designed with cutting-edge materials to keep you cool and protect against UV rays. One such range is E cool® Products that help you actively stay cool on hot days.
of E-Cool® product range Helps keep you cool on hot days. The E-Cool® series has strategically placed E-Cool crystals that keep your upper body, head and neck cool.
- Soak in cold water for 30 minutes
- retains moisture for days
- Cool to wear over a shirt
- Cool to wear over a shirt or under protective clothing
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- Works without freezing or ice
Disclaimer: This blog provides general information and discussion on health and related subjects. The content provided on this blog and the linked materials is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult a licensed physician.
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