Don't Fall Victim To Heat Stress At Work
Working during the summer in Oregon, especially outdoors, can be uncomfortable
sometimes when the thermometer hits 90 degrees and above. But mix high
temperatures, high humidity and physical work and you may fall victim
to a work-related heat illness. The most severe heat-induced illnesses
are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If urgent action is not taken to
treat a case of heat exhaustion, the illness could progress to heat stroke,
and even death.
What should be done to help a person suffering heat exhaustion:
1. Move the person to a cool shaded area. Don't leave the person alone.
If the person is dizzy or light-headed, lay them on their back and raise
their legs about 6-8 inches at the feet. If the person is sick to their
stomach, lay them on their side.
2. Loosen and remove heavy clothing.
3. Have the person drink some cool water (a small cup every 15 minutes)
if they are not feeling sick to their stomach.
4. Try to cool the person by fanning them. Cool the skin with a cool spray
mist of water or wet cloth.
5. If the person does not feel better in a few minutes, call for emergency
The ideal situation is to prevent heat illness by protecting workers.
Consider the following suggestions to help protect workers:
1. Learn the signs and symptoms of heat-induced illnesses and what to
do to help workers.
2. Perform the heaviest, most labor-intensive work during the coolest
part of the day.
3. Slowly build up tolerance to the heat and the work activity (this usually
takes up to two weeks).
4. Use the buddy system to monitor the heat (work in pairs).
5. Drink plenty of cool water (one small cup every 15-20 minutes).
6. Wear light, loose-fitting, breathable (such as cotton) clothing.
7. Take frequent short breaks in cool, shaded areas - allow your body
to cool down.
8. Avoid eating large meals before working in hot environments.
9. Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages (these beverages make the body
lose water and increase the risk of heat illnesses).
Workers can be at increased risk when they take certain medications. Check
with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacy to see if medicines you take may
affect you when working in hot environments. People who have experienced
a heat-induced illness in the past, or must wear personal protective equipment
while on the job are at higher risk for heat illness.
HEAT STROKE - A Medical Emergency
If heat exhaustion goes unnoticed or left untreated, heat stroke, an urgent
medical emergency can result. In extreme situations, heat stroke may lead
to death. Heat stroke is a different condition than heat exhaustion, and
there are several reactions which occur to the human body: Dry, pale skin
(no sweating); hot red skin (looks like a sunburn); mood changes; irritability,
confusion, and not making any sense; seizures or fits, and collapsing
(person will not respond to verbal commands).
What should be done:
1. Call for emergency help (i.e., ambulance or 911).
2. Move the person to a cool, shaded area. Don't leave the person alone.
Lay them on their back and if the person is having seizures, remove objects
close to them so they won't hit them. If the person is sick to their stomach,
lay them on their side.
3. Remove heavy clothing and outer coverings.
4. Have the person drink some cool water (a small cup every 15 minutes)
if they are alert enough to drink anything and not feeling sick to their
5. Try to cool the person by fanning him or her. Cool the skin with a
cool spray mist of water, wet cloth, or wet sheet.
If ice is available, place ice packs in armpits and groin area.
A "Heat Stress Safety" reminder card is available from Oregon
OSHA. You can download the reminder card from the Oregon OSHA website,
www.orosha.org, under "Publications" or call 800-922-2689
to order the card from the Oregon OSHA Resource Center.