Health and Heat
Safety Meeting Topic: OSHA – HEAT RELATED ILLNESS
Employees exerting themselves physically in the heat could be at risk of heat illness; a simple review of some handy safety tips with employees and/or end-users can make all the difference.
Environments that combine high temperature, high humidity, and physical exertion – whether work or sport – are the catalyst for heat-related illness. A persons health and well-being, tolerance and stamina will also play a large part in how a person (or animal) can “weather” high temperatures and either aggressive play or vigorous work.
How the Body Cools Itself
The body has a natural cooling system that is used to protect internal organs-particularly the brain-from increases in temperature. When blood temperature exceeds 98.6 Fahrenheit, the body’s heart rate increases and blood circulates closer to the surface of the skin. This allows heat to transfer out of the blood and into the cooler environment outside the body. But this heat transfer is only effective if the temperature outside the body is less than inside.
If your body can’t lose enough heat by transferring heat out of the bloodstream, your brain will signal the sweat glands to start sending fluids to the surface of the skin.
Once the sweat reaches the surface of the skin, the sweat will be evaporated off the skin by the hot, dry environment outside the body. The body’s heat will dissipate with the evaporated sweat.
But when the humidity is high as well as the temperature, the body’s natural cooling system isn’t very effective. High heat prevents cooling through heat transfer out of the bloodstream, and high humidity prevents sweat from evaporating. The result can be heat-related illness.
Simple, Quick, and Effective
The best defense is prevention.
When installing or playing on artificial grass surfaces:
In high temperatures, under direct sun, provide shade to cool surfaces and lower ambient temperatures. In high humidity, watering the artificial turf to reduce heat can increase humidity on the playing surfaces; especially fields in full sun – this can be counter productive.
Consider holding all construction or play to times of the day when temperatures are lower, with in-direct sun and lower humidity is expected.
Split construction or use into early morning and early evening shifts – work 4 hour mornings and 4 hour evenings, under halogen lamps, where needed.
Tips*** for Preventing Heat-Related Illness
The CDC advises:
* Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
* Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar–these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
* Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library–even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.
* Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
* Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
* NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
* Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on:
o Infants and young children
o People aged 65 or older
o People who have a mental illness
o Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure
* Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children, of course, need much more frequent watching.
If you must be out in the heat:
* Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
* Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Warning: If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage. Remember the warning in the first “tip” (above), too.
* Try to rest often in shady areas.
* Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say broad spectrum or UVA/UVB protection on their labels).
Frequently Asked Questions:
This information provided by NCEH’s Health Studies Branch.
SAFETY MEETINGS – Every 10 days
Safety meetings are the perfect format for communicating information mandated by OSHA, by your employer, or simply by your personal desire to keep employees safe.
Safety meetings are a great forum for communicating information. Safety meetings are efficient, cost-effective, and practical. The half hour or so you spend once or twice a month will be repaid with fewer accidents and a safer workplace. What more could you ask from any safety initiative?
Heat-related illnesses include:
Heat stress: Heat stress occurs when a strain is placed on the body as a result of hot weather.
Heat syncope: Sudden dizziness or faintingexperienced after exercising in the heat. The skin appears pale and sweaty but is generally moist and cool. The pulse may be weakened, and the heart rate is usually rapid. Body temperature is normal.
Heat cramps: Painful muscle spasms in the abdomen, arms, or legs following strenuous activity. The skin is usually moist and cool and the pulse is normal or slightly raised. Body temperature is mostly normal. Heat cramps often are caused by a lack of salt in the body, but salt replacement should not be considered without advice from a physician.
Heat exhaustion: A warning that the body is getting too hot. The person may be thirsty, giddy, weak, uncoordinated, nauseous, and sweating profusely. The body temperature is usually normal and the pulse is normal or raised. The skin is cold and clammy. Although heat exhaustion often is caused by the body’s loss of water and salt, salt supplements should only be taken with advice from a doctor.
Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to an excessive loss of water and salt contained in sweat. Those most prone to heat exhaustion include elderly people, people with high blood preset and people working or exercising in a hot environment.
Heat stroke: Heat stroke can be LIFE-THREATENING! Victims of heat stroke almost always die, so immediate medical attention is essential when problems first begin. A person with heat stroke has a body temperature above 104‡ F. Other symptoms may include confusion, combativeness, bizarre behavior, faintness, staggering, strong rapid pulse, dry flushed skin, lack of sweating, possible delirium or coma.
Heat stroke occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature. The body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106‡F or higher within 10-15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given.
Many of us live in or visit regions where sunburn, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are summer health risks. If you live in a hot region, the heat can affect your health all year round. The three phases of heat-related problems are heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Heat cramps can be in the muscles being used while exercising or working in warm temperatures, or there can be abdominal cramps.
Heat exhaustion typically occurs when people work or exercise in hot, humid conditions. The symptoms are:
* Cool, pale, and clammy skin
* Heavy sweating
* Dilated pupils
* Rapid pulse and breathing
In heat stroke, body temperature rises rapidly to 104F or higher. There is a strong, rapid pulse. The person may be confused or unconscious. He or she may also vomit. Heat stroke is a medical emergency.
To treat heat cramps:
* Stop the activity.
* Get out of the heat.
* Drink cool water or a sports drink in small amounts — not in big gulps.
* Eat some salty food.
* Massage the cramped muscle, gently stretching it for 20 seconds.
As with all heat illnesses, it is important to treat heat cramps right away. The same conditions that caused the cramps can lead to more serious heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
If heat exhaustion strikes:
* Get the person to a cool area.
* Loosen or remove the person’s clothing.
* Have the person lie on his or her back with the feet slightly raised.
* Give cool water or an electrolyte sports drink.
* Call the doctor’s office for advice if you don’t notice an improvement within a half hour. Also stay alert to signs of heat stroke.
Heat stroke is life threatening. It requires immediate medical attention. Call for an ambulance immediately if someone is suffering from heat stroke. While waiting for help, wrap him or her in wet sheets and fan the body with your hands or an electric fan. Give the person water if he or she is able to drink.
Preventive Care for Heat-Related Problems
Heat-related illnesses can be serious. Although certain people (older adults, individuals who are obese, and individuals taking certain medications) may be more susceptible to heat illnesses than others, anyone can be affected. The best advice is to use care.
* Put off strenuous tasks for a cooler day or plan to do them during the coolest parts of the day, such as before dawn or in the early morning. Plan ways to get out of the heat, especially during the hottest part of the day, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. If you do not have air conditioning or fans at home, go for at least part of the day to a public air-conditioned place, such as a library, shopping mall, or movie theater, to get out of the heat.
* When outside, wear lightweight and light-colored clothing. Wear a broad-brimmed hat or carry an umbrella for shade. Sponge off with cool water from time to time throughout the day
* Most important of all, drink lots of water, juices, or sports drinks. (You are drinking enough if your urine is clear or pale yellow , as opposed to yellow or dark yellow. ) Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Decision Guide for Heat-Related Problems
Symptoms of heat exhaustion
Use first aid
Muscle pain or spasms in legs, abdomen, or shoulders
Use first aid
Symptoms of heat exhaustion — not better after a half hour of self-care
Heat exposure with fever or frequent vomiting
Dry mouth, increased thirst, severe dizziness, scant or no urinary output
Seek help now
Hot, red skin; absence of sweat; fever; rapid, shallow breathing
*** ASGi provides the above information and related sources for information only – we recommend that you consult a physician regarding heat-related illness and its treatment, for your own circumstances. OSHA requires you to provide safety meetings with your staff every 10 working days.
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