With high summer temperatures approaching this is a good time to provide your employees with safety training on how to avoid the dangers of heat stress. Many people do not realize how deadly heat stress can be and how quickly it can strike.
Heat stress occurs when the body cannot get rid of the heat it generates or absorbs from the environment. Usually the body will get rid of excess heat through sweat and by varying the blood flow to the skin. Working in hot environments, confined spaces, or wearing protective clothing that interfere with the bodyâ€™s cooling process can lead to illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Of the heat stress related illnesses, heat stroke can be deadly (Oklahoma State University EHS Safety Training):
Heat stroke is a life threatening illness with a high death rate. It occurs when the body has depleted its supply of water and salt, and the victim’s body temperature rises to deadly levels. A heat stroke victim may first suffer heat cramps and/or the heat exhaustion before progressing into the heat stroke stage, but this is not always the case. It should be noted that, on the job, heat stroke is sometimes mistaken for heart attack. It is therefore very important to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stroke – and to check for them anytime an employee collapses while working in a hot environment.
Illness and deaths from heat stress are almost entirely avoidable. Yet, each year thousands of employees suffer from the adverse effects of heat stress. Injuries and deaths from heat stress may in fact be under-reported as the following news item reveals.
In the article “Schwarzenegger orders officials to accurately track heat deaths”, Don Thomson writes
The AP found that the number of deaths in July 2006 was 466 higher than the average over the previous six yearsâ€”a spike many health officials attributed to the record heat. The figure is three times more than the 143 people the state said officially died from the heat.
The article also quotes Adam Mendelsohn, Governor Schwarzeneggerâ€™s spokes person
We are very concerned that the state’s numbers may have underestimated the true death toll from last year’s heat wave
So provide your employees with heat stress safety training and help reduce heat related accidents and deaths this summer.
Here is a list of Heat Stress information and training resources to help you to do so:
- CDC’s – Extreme Heat
- NIOSH Safety and Health Topic: Heat Stress
- NIOSH’s pamphlet – Working in Hot Environments
- National Ag Safety Database’s Newspaper Article: Heat Stress
- National Climatic Data Center’s – Defining a Heat Stress Index
- Intellicast – Get Heat Index and Weather Forecast by entering your city’s ZIP Code
- OSHA ‘s Fact Sheet – Working Outdoors in Warm Climates
- OSHA Quickcard – Heat Stress QuickCard (In Spanish)
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety – What is Heat Stress?
- National Safety Council’s Fact Sheets – Surviving the Hot Weather
- Department of Industrial Relations – Heat Illness On The Job – in Cantonese, English, Hmong, Korean, Mandarin, Spanish, Vietnamese
- Cal/OSHA’s – Heat Illness Prevention Emergency Regulation Enforcement Q&A
- US Army’s Ranger and Airborne School Students Heat Acclimatization Guide
- EPA’s – Excessive Heat Events Guidebook
- Rick Curtis Princeton University – NASD’s Outdoor Action Guide to Heat-Related Illnesses & Fluid Balance
Heat Stress Safety Training related programs we offer: