With the scorching California sun, hearing the word “heat stress” is pretty common. But what’s not so common is being informed of the lesser-known factors that contribute to heat stress. Heat stress can creep up on you, but knowing what causes it will help keep you safe and informed!
So what is heat stress?
Heat stress can vary in severity from being mildly uncomfortable to life-threatening.
- Heat rash
- Heat cramps
- Heat exhaustion
- Heat stroke
In fact, most workers say they have experienced heat stress at some point in their careers.
Many things can determine the severity of which a person is at risk for heat stress, such as personal risk factors, environmental factors, and job factors.
However, in most cases, personal risk factors and job factors are overlooked compared to environmental factors.
Medications can affect everyone’s body differently. It can even affect your ability to deal with the heat. We recommend workers be careful, especially those taking medication for:
- colds, allergies, congestion
- blood pressure
Did you know that workers who have consumed alcohol in the past 24 hours are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses? This is because alcohol negatively impacts the body’s ability to regulate its temperature.
Everyone loves going on vacation, right? Usually, you vacation to a warm tropical place, but if you happen to go somewhere cold, we recommend workers who are returning to work after being away from the heat to let their body adjust to the temperature.
Being Close to Hot Equipment
Did you know that employees who work closely with engines or other heat-generating equipment are at increased risk for heat stress? This is because the equipment produces heat, which makes their work area even hotter. It won’t be long until the worker’s temperature rises as well.
Some PPE is heavy and does not allow for the body to breathe, causing it to overheat. Pay attention to coated and non-woven materials, which are often used in PPE.
How much a person sweats varies from person to person, however those who lose more than 1.5 percent of their body weight in just one day from sweating are at higher risk of heat stress. This is why being properly hydrated is extremely important.
Those who work during the hottest parts of the day are also at a high risk of heat stress. If possible, we recommend alternating shifts or doing more strenuous work in the morning instead of later in the afternoon.