“No one should die from a heat wave, but every ear on average, extreme
heat causes 658 deaths in the United
States — more than tornadoes,
hurricanes, floods and lightning
combined,” says Robin Ikeda, the acting
director of the National Center for
Environmental Health and Agency for
Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
The summer heat can be particularly
dangerous in manufacturing facilities as
it often takes a heavy toll on workers,
reduces morale and can result in reduced
productivity and dangerous safety risks.
In order to mitigate these risks it is
imperative that manufacturers be aware
of the potential medical complications
and symptoms of heat-related illnesses,
as well as how to combat them.
There are four different types of
heat-related illnesses. They include
heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat
cramps and heat rash. Each have different symptoms and represent a varying level of severity.
Heat stroke is the most serious reac-
tion to heat and is triggered when the
body can no longer regulate its core
temperature. Symptoms include confu-
sion, fainting, seizures, excessive sweat-
ing or red, hot, dry skin and an overall
increased body temperature. According
to OSHA, if a worker begins to show
signs of a heat stroke, 911 should be
called immediately. Then while waiting
for help a worker should be placed in a
cool shaded area, their clothes should
be loosened, they should be fanned, the
worker should have ice packs and cool
compressors applied and water should
also be provided. They should also be
monitored at all times.
Heat exhaustion is another common
heat-related illness to be aware of
as the summer approaches. It is the
body’s reaction to loss of body salts
and fluid due to sweating. OSHA
describes the symptoms as, “cool or
moist skin, heavy sweating, headache,
nausea or vomiting, dizziness, light
headedness, weakness, thirst, irritability and an accelerated heartbeat.” The
appropriate first aid measures for heat
exhaustion are to remove the worker to
a cool or shady area, provide the worker with plenty of water and provide
cool compresses. The worker should
be taken to a medical professional only
if symptoms worsen, but should not
return to work that day.
Heat cramps are similarly a result of
lost water and body salts and are signaled
by muscle spasms and pain commonly in
the abdomen, arms or legs. Once cramps
or spasms start to occur, it is recommended that a worker rest in a cool shaded
area, drink lots of water and rest for a
few hours before returning to work.
Heat rash is the most common problem associated with hot work environments and is a skin reaction to sweat
that is no longer evaporating from the
skin. The rash usually appears in clusters of red bumps. It is most commonly
found on the neck, upper chest and in
folds of skin. To combat it, workers
should try to move to a cooler area and
to keep the affected area dry.
Each of these illnesses are extremely
serious and can result in health concerns
and loss of productivity, so instead of
As summer draws closer and temperatures begin to rise, there are many safe-
ty factors that need to be taken into consideration.