Heat Stress

Heat Stress

With Summer on it’s way and northern QLD achieving record temperatures, we thought it might be time to talk about Heat Stress

Heat stress occurs when heat is absorbed from the environment faster than the body can get rid of it. This can occur as a result of;

  • the type of work activity
  • the surrounding air temperature/humidity level
  • the physical condition of the individual (he/she may be new to thejob or new to climate)

The warning signs to watch for include painful muscles spasms or cramps, heavy sweating, difficulty in thinking clearly, slurred speech, blurred vision, dizziness or fainting.

To keep internal body temperatures within safe limits in hot conditions, the body needs to be able to expel heat. Maintaining hydration is one of the most important strategies to counteract the effects of heat stress.

Thirst may not trigger the need to drink until there is a risk of developing heat-related illness. If suffering from dehydration, do not recommence work until fully rehydrated.

To maintain hydration;

  • Start work in a well-hydrated state and maintain this with regular drinking to keep pace with sweat losses
  • Drink between 600 ml and 1 litre of water per hour if working outdoors in summer
  • Drink 150-250 ml of cool fluids every 15 minutes, rather than lots on a less regular basis
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages (Coke and energy drinks have a high level of caffeine)

Types of heat stress related illnesses

  • Heat rash or prickly heat is an intense, itchy red skin rash.
  • Heat cramps usually affect people who have sweated a lot during strenuous activity.
  • Heat exhaustion is a serious condition that can develop into heat stroke. Warning signs include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness and weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting and fainting.
  • Heat stroke is a medical emergency, caused by a rise in core body temperature. A person suffering heat stroke becomes confused and may stagger or collapse.

Heat Stress is just one of the many subjects TANDI cover in our Online Employee Inductions. If you want to find out more about how to keep your workforce safe, visit our website.