Employers supervising workers in regions that have extreme temperatures may want to adopt employee training programs that educate workers on the symptoms of heat illnesses, including heat stroke. By teaching workers about the early signs of these potentially life-threatening conditions, employers could see decreases in heat illness reports and increases in worker productivity.
Workers are encouraged to keep in mind the basic precautions necessary to prevent the occurrence of heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends employers consider revising work hours to early morning or evening periods when the temperature is lower or stop work when there is a heat wave. Employers may want to suggest to workers to take breaks frequently, resting under shade or drinking water to cool down.
Prolonged exposure to heat may result in heat illnesses that range from mild symptoms, such as heat cramps, to severe, which include heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Signs of heat exhaustion include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fast heart beat
The symptoms of heat stroke are more extreme and include:
- Red, hot and dry skin
After teaching workers how to recognize these symptoms, they may be more likely to act in case of an emergency.
It’s important workers are trained and prepared to call for medical help in case of a heat illness-related emergency if their colleagues exhibit related symptoms. OSHA suggests transporting the affected person to a place with shade, and giving him or her water gradually if he or she is not vomiting. Employers may want to cool workers by fanning them, soaking their clothing with cool water or putting ice packs under their arms.