Date PostedApril 29, 2013

The Dangers of Heat Stress

heat stress - TacludaEven though the weather is getting cooler in some parts of Australia many areas are still subject to temperatures that can cause heat stress in workers.

Besides, workers that are indoors in hot environments can also suffer heat stress so keep that in mind if you work either outdoors or in one of these indoor environments.

What is heat stress?

A person will suffer from heat stress when heat from the immediate environment is absorbed quicker than the body can get rid of it.

Factors that can contribute to heat stress include:

  • The work that is being done
  • The air temperature – including the humidity
  • How fit the person is – they may be new to the environment

Generally we keep our bodies naturally regulated to a constant internal temperature even though the external environment temperature is varying.

Two of the ways that our bodies do this is via sweat and by varying the blood flow to the skin.

Factors that may contribute to heat-related health problems at work include:

  • Insufficient rest periods or time to cool off
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Climate such as humidity
  • Clothing that is not appropriate
  • Individual factors like health and alcohol/caffeine consumption
  • Medication
  • General fitness and weight

The environmental factors

Environmental factors that can add to het stress include:

  • Lack of air movement
  • High temperatures
  • High humidity
  • Radiant heat from plant or processes
  • Radiant heat from the sun

Symptoms of heat a related illness

Some of the symptoms that indicate a person is suffering from a heat related illness include:

  • Painful muscles spasms or cramps
  • Heavy sweating
  • Difficulty in thinking clearly
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness or fainting.

The symptoms of heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion indicates a depletion of fluid and salt in the body from sweating, it may develop into heat stroke

The symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness and weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fainting

Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning and web strategy firm based in George St Brisbane. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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