Heat Stress in the Workplace and Its Underlying Variables
In the field of mining, construction, manufacturing and other industries wherein workers are highly exposed to hot working conditions, heat stress is one of the important issues to look into. Workers should be properly trained on prevention and on how to recognize symptoms to avoid injury.
The main health hazard of heat stress is dehydration, due to excessive loss of water and electrolytes through extreme sweating. However, it can also cause many other conditions ranging from simple skin rashes and dizziness to convulsion and unconsciousness. Some of the early symptoms, such as irritability, lack of focus, lethargy and fatigue, can cause severe accidents in the workplace. If not treated immediately, heat stress can then develop into a serious disorder and can even cause death.
Before an organization can create a plan or a set of guidelines to avoid heat stress in the workplace, here are some of the underlying variables that should be taken into account:
The first variable that contributes to heat stress in the workplace is the environment of the workplace itself. If there are signs of high air temperature, poor airflow, high humidity and radiant heat in the areas wherein workers are located, there is a higher probability that they will suffer stress caused by heat.
The current condition of the workers is also an underlying variable. Take note that heat stress can be avoided if people can easily acclimatize to the hot environment of the workplace. Also, they should wear proper clothing suitable for hot or humid conditions and they should know the importance of proper hydration.
Lastly, the nature of the work is also a factor that contributes to heat stress. Of course, the human body produces heat during intense physical activities. This means that managers or employers should pinpoint the most efficient numbers regarding workload and work rate. This way, the risk of heat stress on workers can be minimized.
Heat stress in the workplace is an issue that should always prioritized, especially during the summer. Thus, an effective plan of action for prevention and rehydration should be in place to ensure worker-efficiency and maximize productivity.
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