Avoid heat illness in the workplace.
Eighty degrees. To some that may seem like the perfect temperature – not too hot, not too cold – but 80 degrees is when heat illness can become a serious threat in the workplace.
Heat illness can occur when your body temperature becomes dangerously elevated. In some cases it may be life threatening. Even if workers are indoors, they can have trouble reducing their body temperature if the air temperature is too high, there is too much humidity, the person is dehydrated, or the person is doing strenuous work.
Heat affects everyone differently. One of the biggest dangers of heat in the workplace is when employees are not able to acclimate. The average office temperature is a comfortable 70 degrees, but average outdoor temperatures in a California summer easily exceed 80 degrees. Temperatures can also vary from morning to afternoon. The slightest change can be hard for our bodies to adjust.
All workers should be aware of the following early symptoms including:
- Sweating profusely
- Feeling thirsty
- Skin rashes
Although heat related incidents have decreased over the past few years, a recent article states that 67 percent of Cal/OSHA inspections resulted in violations and more than $1.58 million in fines.
Regardless of where you work, it is important to understand the effects and seriousness of heat illness.
Heat related illnesses include
- Heat rash – skin irritation that results from excessive sweating.
- Heat cramps – muscle pains or spasms that occur during heavy exertion.
- Heat exhaustion – heavy sweating, rapid breathing, and a fast, weak pulse.
- Heatstroke – a serious heat related illness with symptoms including dry skin, rapid pulse, dizziness, confusion, irrational behavior, convulsions, and coma.
OSHA has more information on heat illness and offers tips to help workers beat the heat.
So keep cool and don’t let the summer heat sneak up on you.