Heat stress in the workplace can lead to serious health issues for Pennsylvania employees. The risk of heat stress-related injury increases for those who live and work in areas that are always warm. What causes heat stress, and what can you do if you feel you’re affected by it?
What is heat stress?
Heat stress is a type of bodily stress caused by overheating. It can happen from working in extremely hot temperatures indoors or outdoors. Poorly ventilated workspaces and lack of protection or shading from the sun can also cause overheating.
What are the signs of heat stress?
Each individual has a different tolerance for heat, which means that symptoms can vary greatly. Profuse sweating, an absence of sweating, disorientation, confusion, dizziness, heat rash and cramping are symptoms of heat stress. Ultimately, an overheated person risks passing out on the job.
Someone suffering from heat stress at the workplace opens up the risk of injury to themselves or others from non-heat related sources such as improperly operating heavy machinery. Situations like these can cost employees lost wages and may even lead to workers’ compensation issues for employers.
Employees most at risk of heat stress
Physically demanding jobs that must be completed in temperatures nearing 90 degrees leave workers at risk of developing heat stress. However, those with health conditions involving the heart, kidneys and lungs are more at risk for heat-related injury.
Additionally, certain medications, diet pills, caffeinated drinks, sedatives and alcohol consumption can make someone more vulnerable. Poor working conditions such as lack of ventilation, lack of air conditioning and high-humidity environments exacerbate workers’ chances of heat stress. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can assist you with questions if you have suffered from heat stress in your workplace.
Preventing heat stress on the job
Preventing heat stress may not always be possible, but there are precautions you can take to reduce your and your co-workers’ chances of developing it. Always drink plenty of water, wear light-weight clothing and keep aware of the symptoms. If you are able, always work in a well-ventilated area or in the shade.