According to the Better Health Channel, heat stress is a condition wherein the human body is unable to maintain a healthy temperature. This is caused by dehydration and overexertion in a hot and humid environment. This happens when the body cannot cool itself and accumulates heat.
This condition is a major concern in industries wherein people deal with high ambient temperatures and humidity, poor ventilation, and the use of heat producing machinery and equipment. It affects both the productivity of the workers – which translate to overall productivity – and safety in the workplace.
Impact on Productivity
Heat stress causes the body to lose water and electrolytes faster. This in turn causes loss of focus and physical performance. In fact, according to studies, mental performance degrades well in advance when a person is working in a hot environment. This is followed by poor motor control functions which will disable the person’s ability to work efficiently. Thus, when most personnel in a workplace suffer heat stress, lower productivity will be the result.
Impact on Workplace Safety
Heat stress impacts workplace safety directly and indirectly. If workers are experiencing heat strain in long periods of time and repeatedly, they are likely to suffer from heat related illnesses. They will be directly affected with various conditions that can range from simple rashes to fatal heat strokes. Additionally, as heat stress affects mental performance and motor skills, workers will not be able to focus properly on their jobs. This commonly becomes an indirect cause of accidents in the workplace.
To avoid these negative impacts, employers or companies should create a plan or a set of guidelines that will enable their workers to avoid heat stress. This may include proper education for workers, workplace improvement and a hydration program.
For more information download THORZT’s FREE Heat Stress Management White Paper.