Beat the heat

18 April 2008

Summer heat can take it stoll on your employees. Heat-related illnesses are vastly under recognized and many times are not reported to employers. Unfortunately, not all employers recognize how deadly the combination of heat and humidity can be to workers. Likewise not all workers recognize how vulnerable their bodies are to extreme temperatures responses to heatFor employees who work outside, particularly those involved in heavy labor such as construction and equipment operation, blazing summer temperatures can be especially physical dangerous.

Each person reacts differently to the heat.A worker's age, weight, fitness level and medical condition play a role. Additional factors may include low-sodium diets, caffeine and alcohol consumption, and prescription and over-the-counter drugs usage. Acclimation to the heat is another factor that must be considered. The first days in a hot environment are generally the hardest on workers. An adjustment period of five to seven days is recommended, and workers will need re-acclimation after an absence from the hot environment after holidays or vacation breaks.

When exposed to high temperatures the human body increases blood flow to the skin, where it releases excess heat. The body produces sweat, which when it evaporates, cools the skin. But when muscles are being used for physical labor, less blood is available to flow to the skin and release body heat. In humid conditions the sweat does not evaporate as easily, causing the and heart rate to increase. This can cause dangerous conditions. Early signs of heat stress include losing the desire for fluids, decrease in sweating, irritable behavior, or sickness. All employees should be educated about heat exposure and how to prevent heat-related injuries in order to better protect themselves and their co-workers.

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