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Diving Into Heat Stress Accidents

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Diving Into Heat Stress Accidents

Diving Into Heat Stress Accidents

Diving Into Heat Stress Accidents

Heat stress is a condition wherein the body is unable to get rid of excess heat and cool itself, as a result of which it fails to maintain a healthy internal temperature. It can lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. In some cases, the affected person might go into shock and even suffer a cardiac arrest.

Dangerous Scenarios

Heat stress can also increase the risk of workplace accidents as it can fog up the safety glasses of workers, make their palms sweaty, and make them feel dizzy and disoriented. If workers inadvertently make contact with a very hot surface or get exposed to steam, they might suffer burn injuries as well.

Heat Stress – Who is at Risk?

People who work in a hot environment and people who are exposed to extreme heat at the workplace are at risk of heat stress and the injuries and illnesses resulting from it. Common examples include farm workers, construction workers, and miners who regularly work outdoors and are exposed to harsh weather conditions.

Similarly, firefighters, boiler room workers, and those who work at bakeries, steel manufacturing plants, and other types of places where they are constantly exposed to extreme heat are vulnerable to heat-related illnesses. The risk of heat stress and other relevant problems is very high in workers who belong to one or more of the following categories:

  • Those who are above the age of 65.
  • Those who are obese.
  • Those who have high blood pressure.
  • Those who take certain types of medications that affect their body’s ability to react normally to extreme heat, thus making them vulnerable to heat-related illnesses.
Treating and Preventing Heat Stress

Heat stress can lead to heat stroke – a more serious condition where the body loses its ability to control its internal temperature. During a heat stroke, a person’s temperature could increase up to 106° F and even higher in some cases. In such instances – unless treated immediately – the affected person might suffer a permanent disability or even death.

First Aid
  • The worker should be moved to a shaded area, and their outer clothing should be removed.
  • The worker’s core temperature must be brought down with the help of a cold water bath or an ice bath.
  • The worker should be positioned in such a way that they get a lot of fresh air, which can speed up the cooling process.
  • Cold, wet clothes should be placed on the worker’s body – particularly on the forehead, neck, chest, armpits, and groin.
Best Practices to Prevent Heat Stress and Other Related Illnesses at Workplace
  • The amount of time workers spend in the heat should be restricted, and they should be allowed to spend more time in a cool, shaded environment for recovery.
  • The physical effort required for the job should be reduced with the help of specialized tools.
  • Physically demanding jobs should be assigned to a group of workers to prevent the risk of individual workers over-exerting themselves.
  • A buddy system should be in place wherein workers can keep an eye on one another for symptoms of heat stress.
  • Workers should be provided with clean, cool water at the work site and should be encouraged to drink water at regular intervals, even if they do not feel thirsty.
  • A heat acclimatization program should be implemented at the workplace and workers should be encouraged to improve their physical fitness.
  • Workers and supervisors should be trained on heat stress and its causes, how it can be prevented, and what to do in case a worker exhibits symptoms of heat intolerance.
Tackling Heat Stress at the Workplace

Heat stress is a problem that should not be taken lightly, as the consequences could be deadly. It can be avoided to a large extent by educating workers on heat-related issues, implementing heat acclimatization programs, and by having systems in place to prevent workers from over-exposing themselves to extreme heat at the workplace.

Watch YouTube Video: Seven Ways to Beat the Heat – Hot Weather Hazards. This animated video provides seven ways to prevent heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses, and deaths.

Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Sacramento

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Attorney. Heat stress can cause severe injuries or even death. If you or a loved one has suffered heat stress at the workplace, call me at 916.921.6400 or 800.404.5400. I am happy to provide free, friendly legal advice.

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You can see our Verdicts and Settlements here.

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