Working outside in hot temperatures creates the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion is precursor to heat stroke, so it is important to recognize the symptoms to prevent the escalation. It is caused by water and salt loss through extreme sweating. Learning the symptoms and treatment for heat exhaustion is important for workers to be able to protect their health and safety.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle cramps
Symptoms of heat stroke include:
- A body temperature of 41°C
- Partial or total loss of consciousness
- Increased heart and respiration rates
Heat stroke requires immediate medical treatment. The worker needs to be moved to an air condition location or if this is not available a shaded, cool area and provided with hydration.
One of the key preventative measures against heat exhaustion or heat stroke is frequent breaks. Sufficient hydration and SPF protection are also essential in avoiding heat exhaustion or stroke. The rule of thumb for staying sufficiently hydrated in extreme heat is one cup of water every 15-20 minutes. To protect workers, employers could set up temporary shade shelters to provide relief during breaks. Another way for employers to mitigate heat exhaustion or stroke is to monitor the UV ray index and try to avoid sending workers out during periods of extremely high ratings, which is typically from 11 AM until 3 PM. Offering flexibility in working arrangements during hot conditions and allowing less strenuous work to occur during that time is beneficial for workers and is a demonstration of protecting their health and safety. Work should be adapted based on the temperature and how the workers are feeling.
Managing risk is an important first step in prevent heat exhaustion or stroke. Worker training on the signs and symptoms of heat illnesses will allow workers to protect themselves and is a way to manage the risk of working in extreme heat. Topics such as prevention and treatment should be covered.
Health and safety is a serious consideration in the workplace. It is essential that both employers and workers take preventative measures in extreme heat conditions. It should be noted that this is a very brief overview of heat safety and that more detail can be found on government websites, which have been included below. Elite Agri Solutions offers in-person and online health and safety training, which includes how to work safely in hot conditions. Do not hesitate to contact us for more information.
Check out our online Farm Safety Awareness Training.