Summer is a season of vacation, fun, and warm weather in many parts of the country. For outdoor workers, summertime can result in high heat temperatures which they can be exposed to heat stress.
What Is Heat Stress?
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “Heat Stress is a heat-related illness, also called hyperthermia, that results from exposure to extreme heat where the body becomes unable to properly cool, resulting in a rapid rise in body temperature.”
At this level, body temperature rises beyond the standard rate and several abnormalities begin to happen to the body. Without taking the appropriate actions to prevent heat stress, the heart rate begins to increase, lack of concentration begins to set in, and dehydration occurs. If this person doesn’t cool down soon, they begin to experience several health problems. These problems may vary based on age, but they can range from feeling extremely ill, going unconscious, and in some cases can become life-threatening.
Understanding How Heat Stress Happens?
Heat stress happens when the body is exposed to excess heat and gets to a point where the average temperature is not attainable in response to the current weather. Heat stress is prominent among those working outdoors or in areas of high heat temperature, humidity, or radiant heat.
Who Is at Higher Risk to be Affected by Heat Stress?
According to the Environmental Health and Safety at Iowa State University, people with heart, lung, kidney disease, diabetes, or those on medications are more likely to experience heat stress problems. To reduce heat stress conditions people should avoid dieting pills, sedatives, tranquilizers, caffeinated drinks, and excessive use of alcohol.
It often takes a few weeks for workers to become acclimated to a hot environment. Individuals above the age of 60 are at greater risk of heat stress than younger people. Precautions should be taken any time temperatures are approaching 90°F or if the job is physically demanding.
Furthermore, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, indicates that heat stress caused about 2,830 nonfatal occupational illnesses and about 37 work-related deaths. From the summer months of June through September 2015; 33 of the 37 fatal work injuries were caused by exposure to environmental heat. In 2015 alone, Texas and California had the highest number of nonfatal injuries and illnesses with days away from work. Kansas and South Carolina had the highest rates of nonfatal injuries and illnesses from environmental heat.
|Nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses caused by exposure to environmental heat, 2015|
|State||Number||Rate per 10,000 workers|
|Note: States not shown did not participate in the survey in 2015 or the data were not reported or did not meet publication criteria.|
Source: U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS
What Are the Solutions to Heat Stress?
To prevent and manage heat stress, OSHA has provided some insights that can be helpful to workplace settings; which include: shades, canopies, and other mediums that can be used to prevent contact with direct sunlight or any source of heat.
These suggested solutions need to be analyzed and adapted by employers to fit the different scenarios of employees and their working environments:
During the summertime, workers should drink water at least every 15 minutes to help cool the body off and prevent dehydration. They should also avoid any liquids, such as energy drinks, alcohol, soda, and coffee, that contain caffeine. Individuals who work in well-ventilated environments also tend to have less exposure to heat stress. Air conditioning should be used if shades, canopies, and other mediums to prevent direct contact with heat are not feasible.
Furthermore, wearing lightweight clothing allows for better ventilation and less strain on an individual’s body. Dark clothing of any type should be avoided since it absorbs the most heat. Gradually increase workload for workers who are not used to hot conditions. Work schedules should be modified during summer, either during early hours or later during the day, as much as possible.
5 Top Selling LGS Cooling Products That Can Be Used to Prevent Heat Stress
Liberty Glove and Safety (LGS) product line of cooling products provides immediate dry cooling relief by maintaining healthy body temperature at work. These products are best suited for workers that are exposed to heat. Reduce the risk of heat stress for a safer and more productive working environment.
HiVizGard Full Brim with Neck Shade
Summer comes with a lot of heat. So, while heat cannot be avoided, preventing and managing heat stress helps reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses that can occur from it. This HiVizGard full brim with neck shade protects the wearer from excessive heat on the face and neck area.
The hi-vis material provides great visibility and fits on most outside cap-style and full-brim hard hats.
DuraWear Cooling Towel
The DuraWear cooling towel for heat stress relief is made of advanced Poly Vinyl Alcohol (PVA) material. With its antimicrobial treated material that prevents mold build up, you can activate this product with these simple steps: soak, wring out excess water, and use it instantly. When worn, it helps to cool the body temperature and can either wrap it around your head, neck, or wipe it on other pulse points on the body. With regular maintenance, this product is safe and reusable.
HiVizGard Class 2 Evaporative Cooling Safety Vest
Do you need a safety vest to manage heat stress in the workplace? The HiVizGard Class 2 Evaporative Cooling Safety Vest is the right solution for you. Soak this Class 2 certified antimicrobial safety vest in cold water for immediate cooling relief. It keeps you completely dry during the entire evaporative cooling process which reduces the effect of heat exhaustion and fights fatigue while working in the summer outdoor heat.
HiVizGard Neck Shade
Prevent sunburns with our HiVizGard Hard Hat Neck Shade. Made of 100% polyester mesh material which allows for better airflow, it is also equipped with elastic bands and plastic clips to secure over most hard hats. It is machine-washable and reusable as well.
DuraWear Cooling Bandana
With the summer heat, the DuraWear antimicrobial treated cooling bandana is recommended for workplaces exposed to high temperatures that can cause heat stress. This product is made up of Poly Vinyl Alcohol material and activated when the bandana is soaked. This universal bandana can be tied around the neck or head. This product is machine washable if properly maintained and reusable.
As a leader in PPE, Liberty Glove and Safety (LGS) offers a full range of high-quality Heat Stress Prevention Products. Stay alert, take precautions, and be safe on the jobsites that are physically demanding. Please call our sales professionals at 800-327-8333, or visit our website for more information regarding our cooling products.