Now that it’s officially summer, and the temperatures are bound to rise with unpredictability in how intensely it could occur, the danger of working in hot environments is also increasing. This leads to workers suffering from serious injuries, illnesses, and other kinds of problems due to being exposed to overheated working conditions. This can hinder their performance on the job, and could even result in life-threatening issues. During such conditions, it’s recommended to provide employees with lightweight safety gloves to ensure they don’t have to experience too much heat.
It’s important to note that summer heat can cause rashes, allergies, and heat cramps. Furthermore, workers are at constant risk of heat strokes and exhaustion. To prevent this, OSHA has stated a few guidelines for workers to stay safe during the summer as they work. Under OSHA’s guidelines, it’s the employer’s responsibility to provide workers with proper clothing and other necessary equipment and remedies to help them stay hydrated and refreshed during harsh weather conditions.
In this blog, we’ll discuss those guidelines, but first, let’s have a look at how heat ends up influencing the body negatively.
How Heat Affects the Body?
Our bodies have mechanisms in place to constantly regulate every process, including the body’s temperatures. When the temperature around us changes, our body’s internal temperatures are also impacted simultaneously; lower temperatures in the winter end up decreasing our body temperatures while rising temperatures in summer end up increasing our body’s internal temperature as well, resulting in the level of heat in our body rising too.
If the air around the body is cool, the body releases heat in the air to modify its inner environment. But if the air is warm, this release doesn’t occur, and the heat isn’t regulated properly.
At times, sweating can be effective, but only if the sweat can be evaporated off the skin on time. If people are in environments with too much heat, this sweat sticks to the body, causing suffocation and an unbreathable environment. Additionally, excessive sweat also results in dehydration and other problems.
Heat rashes occur when the skin becomes too irritated by excessive sweating, specifically during intense heat conditions and in locations that have a humid climate, meaning the sweat doesn’t evaporate properly. These rashes are small blisters or pimples, and they’re extremely stingy and could even be painful in extreme cases. They commonly occur on the neck and chest areas, elbow creases, etc.
These are episodes of pain felt in muscles, often accompanied by spasms. These cramps usually occur after a person has performed strenuous physical activity, meaning they could be common in construction workers dealing with heavy equipment. The causes behind them are a decrease in body fluids and salt levels due to excessive sweating, and could also occur due to heat exhaustion, which has been discussed further below.
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Heat strokes occur when the body begins to break down after being unable to regulate its internal temperature. The symptoms of a stroke involve excessive sweating, paleness, lower blood pressure levels, dizziness, headaches, weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and in harsh conditions vomiting and fainting.
At times, people could even experience breathing problems as a result of a heat stroke. For a diagnosis, it doesn’t matter if a person is displaying all or some of these symptoms, at times the skin may feel cool, yet a person could faint or suffer a migraine due to a stroke. These strokes occur after multiple days of exposure to excessively hot environments or working directly under the sun on an especially hot day.
Heatwaves are the most common causes of heat strokes, and proper measures need to be taken by workers as well as employers to ensure this doesn’t occur because in some extreme cases, it can also result in death.
Heat exhaustion is a very serious illness caused by excessively hot environments. In this, the body’s temperature regulatory system breaks down, and the body becomes incapable of cooling itself. The temperature inside one’s body can rise to 106 degrees F in only 10-15 minutes, after which the vital organs like the brain, kidneys, etc., can become damaged. This stroke can cause death without even one being aware that they should be going to the hospital. This causes an extremely high-risk situation for a person, due to which it’s always recommended that once a person suspects they’re going through a heat stroke, they should get treated immediately to avoid their stroke from turning into heat exhaustion.
Following are some treatment criteria and recommendations from OSHA for workers suffering from any of the above-stated problems due to excessive heat environments.
- Move to a cooler environment, Keep the area with rash dry, and don’t use water unless it is immediately dried with a towel or cloth. Drying powder can also be used to soothe irritation. If the hands of workers suffer from rashes, it’s recommended that they apply proper cooling ointment and wear the right light-weight safety gloves to avoid injuring their hands further.
- In case of heat cramps, rest in a cool place. Drink energetic beverages e.g. juice. Do not take salt pills unless prescribed. Consult a doctor if you have any underlying medical conditions that could further increase cramps. Continue resting instead of jumping to work immediately, as this could put one at risk of developing more illnesses.
- People suffering a heat stroke should go to a cooler environment, take a cold shower or bath, and drink cold water, or other energetic beverages. Change into clothes that are loose-fitting and have a lighter material. In the case of headaches, it’s likely that the heat has traveled to one’s head and is causing pain. It’s better to keep a cool cloth on the forehead, or massage the forehead with ice packs, etc. to bring the head’s temperature back to normal.
- Immediately get the sufferer of heat exhaustion to a cool place and call for a medical emergency. It’s essential to cool the person’s body temperature down or douse them in cold water. If emergency services are delayed, call a professional for instructions.
All of these are important guidelines for employers to be aware of since they provide proper instructions on what employers can do in harsh weather conditions to protect their workers. Failure to provide proper safety measures can put workers at risk and employers can become prone to being sued by authorities for putting workers in danger of heat diseases. If you need more information on this or other leather industry topics, visit Elite-Leather.