Heat stress is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by workers being exposed to extreme temperatures in the workplace. Heat stress occurs when workers’ bodies cannot regulate their own temperatures properly, leading them to reach dangerously high levels. Left untreated, this condition may result in exhaustion, heat stroke, or even death; in this blog article, we’ll cover its symptoms and how employers can combat it by providing cooling stations and frequent breaks.
Symptoms of Heat Stress
Heat stress may manifest itself through various symptoms, including:
Fatigue, headaches, dizziness, nausea, muscle cramps, weakness, or fainting may all be signs of further complications and should be addressed quickly to avoid further complications. If any of the above symptoms arise for yourself or a coworker it is crucial that prompt action be taken immediately in order to mitigate further consequences.
Employers have a responsibility to create an environment in the workplace that is free from heat stress. Here are some steps employers can take to mitigate heat stress:
Provide Cooling Stations
A key way of combatting heat stress among employees is providing cooling stations – this could mean air-conditioned rooms or shaded outdoor spaces, providing accessible seating areas.
Encourage Frequent Breaks
Breaking regularly to refresh and hydrate is key when working in hot environments, so employers should encourage their employees to take regular breaks to do just that. Furthermore, it is also crucial that cool water or other beverages be provided so as to prevent dehydration from taking place.
Employers can adjust work schedules in order to reduce heat stress. For instance, they could shift hours so as to avoid working during the hottest parts of the day or provide flexible shift options that allow employees to work early morning or late evening when temperatures are typically cooler.
Employers can implement engineering controls to reduce employees’ heat exposure. This may involve installing ventilation systems, using reflective materials on buildings and equipment, providing fans, air conditioning units, etc.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can also help employees avoid heat stress. Employers can give employees lightweight, breathable clothing designed to keep them cool in hot environments.
Heat stress can have severe repercussions if left untreated, making employers responsible for providing a safe working environment and taking steps to mitigate heat stress for their employees. Implementation of measures such as providing cooling stations, encouraging frequent breaks, and altering work schedules are effective ways of providing protection from the hazards of heat stress for their employees.