Heat stress negatively impacts not only the overall productivity of workers in a workplace. It also brings a range of medical conditions that are caused by prolonged accumulation of heat inside the body. Some of these illnesses can be simple such as heat rashes and cramps. However, there are also some serious ones that need immediate attention.
This condition is evident when a worker is unable to continue working due to an elevated core body temperature. Among the common signs of this condition are dehydration, profuse sweating, light headedness, nausea, fainting, fatigue, headache, pale skin, hyperventilation and the urge to defecate. If these symptoms appear, a worker should be pulled out of the workplace and receive treatment or rest. With appropriate care, a full recover from heat exhaustion is possible.
If heat exhaustion strikes and treatment or rest is not provided, it can result in a more severe condition – heat stroke. It is diagnosed by a very high core body temperature of more than 41 degrees Celsius and mental impairment. Symptoms include emotion instability, seizures, disorientation, impaired judgment, aggression, vomiting and elevated heart rate. This is a medical emergency that needs immediate treatment. This condition can result into permanent loss of body functions and even death.
Not all heat-related conditions occur immediately in the workplace. If a worker experiences a post-work headache, nausea or other similar symptoms to heat exhaustion, he is suffering from heat hangover. This term is coined by Dr Matt Brearley, a North Territory-based thermal physiologist who found out that this illness is prevalent on Australian workers. Proper nutrition and enough rest are required to let the body fully recover.
If you are an employer or you are managing a workforce and you are worried about heat stress in your own workplace, get in touch with us here at Thorzt. Find out how we can help you in making sure that a proper hydration program is in place to avoid heat-related illnesses in your workplace.
Or download our FREE Heat Stress Management White Paper.