TOSHA Emphasizes Prevention Of Heat-Related Illnesses

Friday, July 12, 2013

Tennessee OSHA wants Tennessee workers and employers to be aware of the symptoms of heat illness and heat stroke as temperatures start to rise this summer. Every year, thousands of workers are affected by exposure to heat.

Workers exposed to hot and humid conditions are at risk of heat illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky protective clothing and equipment. Some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions.

“Temperatures during the summer in Tennessee can often be extremely high, and workers exposed to these temperatures are at risk for heat-related illnesses,” said TOSHA Administrator Steve Hawkins. “We urge employers to take the necessary precautions to keep their workers safe and healthy.”

Signs of heat related illnesses are headache, dizziness, fainting, weakness, wet skin, irritability, thirst, nausea, or vomiting. Some symptoms associated with heat stroke are confusion, the inability to think clearly, passing out, seizures, or no longer being sweaty.

The body normally cools itself by sweating. During hot weather, especially with high humidity, sweating isn't enough. Body temperature can rise to dangerous levels if precautions are not taken. Heat illnesses range from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke can result in death if the victim does not receive proper medical attention.

To prevent heat illness, employers need to remember three simple things: water, rest, shade. It is crucial for employers to allow their employees to be able to drink water often and allow them rest in the shade. Employers should educate their workers on how drinking water often, taking breaks, and limiting time in the heat can help prevent heat illness.

If symptoms of heat stress or heat stroke appear, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. 

For more information on heat stress and heat stroke, please go to: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html#affected.


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