As the temperatures increase, the need to protect outdoor workers from heat illness also increases. There are two primary types of heat illness, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
The primary symptoms of heat exhaustion (the milder form of heat illness) include dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, rapid heart rate, and cramping. Not all of these symptoms need to be present for a diagnosis of heat exhaustion and they will vary based on the person and the severity.
Heatstroke, is a very severe form of heat illness. Symptoms include red, hot and dry skin, high temperature, confusion, fainting, and convulsions. If you or a coworker is experiencing signs of heat exhaustion or heat illness medical help and advice should be sought immediately.
Some quick tips for heat safety according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) include:
- Drink water every 15 minutes even if you do not feel thirsty
- Look out for your coworkers for signs of heat illness
- Wear a hat and light colored clothing
- Rest in the shade
- Know the location of where you are working in case you need to call 911
Another useful way to prevent heat illness is by utilizing OSHA’s new Heat Safety Tool. The Heat Safety tool is an app that can be found in both the Android and Apple app stores. Using the app, workers and supervisors can calculate heat index and the app displays a risk level to outdoor workers. The app also features reminders of the various protective measures that can be taken to ensure worker safety.
To learn more about heat illness and how to prevent, you can view this OSHA factsheet.