What’s at Stake?
The body normally cools itself by sweating. During hot weather, especially with high humidity, sweating isn’t enough. Body temperatures can rise to dangerous levels if you don’t drink enough water and rest in the shade. You can suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
In 2014 alone, 2,630 workers suffered from heat illness and 18 died from heat stroke and related causes on the job. Heat illnesses and deaths are preventable.
What’s the Danger?
Any worker exposed to hot and humid conditions is at risk of heat illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky protective clothing and equipment. Some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions, including new workers, temporary workers, or those returning to work after a week or more off. All workers are at risk during a heat wave.
The three main heat related illnesses are heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps. Heat stroke can be fatal and heat exhaustion and heat cramps can quickly lead to heat stroke if left untreated.
How to Protect Yourself
To prevent heat related illness and fatalities:
- Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty.
- Rest in the shade to cool down.
- Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
- Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.
- Keep an eye on fellow workers.
- “Easy does it” on your first day of work in the heat. You need to get used to it.