Heat Stress and the Workplace
What are some common effects of working in heat?
Working in heat can be hazardous and can cause harm to workers. The human body needs to maintain a body temperature of approximately 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius. If the body has to work too hard to keep cool or starts to overheat a worker begins to suffer from heat-related illness.
This is a general term to describe a range of progressive heat related conditions including fainting, heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Some other common effects of working in heat include:
Heat rash: Skin can become irritated and cause discomfort when working in heat.
Heat cramps: Muscles can cramp as a result of heavy sweating without replacing salt and electrolytes.
Fainting: Can occur when workers stand or rise from a sitting position.
Dehydration: Increased sweating can lead to dehydration if workers aren’t drinking enough water.
Heat exhaustion: Occurs when the body is working too hard to stay cool.
Heat stroke: Occurs when the body can no longer cool itself. This can be fatal.
Burns: Can occur if a worker comes into contact with hot surfaces or tools.
Slips: A worker will sweat more in hot conditions which can increase the risk of slips – for example, a worker might slip when using sharp tools if their hands are damp.
Reduced concentration: When working in heat it is more difficult to concentrate and a worker may become confused. This means workers may be more likely to make mistakes, such as forgetting to guard machinery.
Increased chemical uptake into the body: Heat can cause the body to absorb chemicals differently and can increase the side effects of some medications.
View our heat stress online course to help prevent heat stress for your employees or in your workplace.