Heat Stress Prevention
When work is carried out within areas with high temperatures, the hazards linked to the extreme temperatures cannot be ignored.
Due to historical experience and the 21st century medical technology there are several precautionary measures that can be implemented to avoid potential incidents like
- heat stroke
- heat exhaustion
- heat syncope
- heat cramps
- Heat rush.
This article will briefly discuss some of the preventative measures.
Education & Training
Studies have shown that workers who are educated on hydration and fluid intake recommendations are far less likely to become dehydrated or suffer from heat related conditions both at home and in the workplace.
Engineering controls should be the first action. These would include:
- Insulating or shielding hot surfaces to reduce radiant heat.
- Providing air conditioning or ventilation to remove hot air or reduce humidity.
- Eliminating heavy work or having it done at a time or place where the heat hazard will not exist.
Administrative controls are also used to mitigate risks of heat stress. The work would need to be assessed where and when heat will be a hazard. Develop a plan to eliminate or control each hazard.
- Provide well ventilated cooling down / rest areas at a reasonable distance from the works.
- Acclimatize workers to the heat, this involves gradual physiological adaption that improves one’s ability to tolerate heat stress – evaporation of sweat.
- Supervise work, employing recommended work/rest cycles as a method of decreasing heat stress.
- Provide water and encourage workers to drink at least a litre of water for each hour of their shift.
- Plan to adjust work/rest schedules according to broadcast humidex or temperature ratings. Plan heavy or outdoor work for early or late in the day.
- If personal protective equipment is required, ensure any heat retention caused by it is taken into consideration when planning the work.