Heat exhaustion can develop quickly when you work in hot, humid weather. Your body overheats and raises your core body temperature from 37° to 40° Celsius or 98.6° to 104° Fahrenheit.
What causes heat exhaustion?
- Exposure to hot weather or working conditions (like in a furnace or an area with steam pipes).
- People with medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or skin diseases and rashes may be more susceptible to heat.
- Loss of water and salt from heavy sweating.
- Clothing that traps heat and doesn’t ‘breathe’.
What are the signs of heat exhaustion?
Heat exhaustion victims may not recognize they have the symptoms below. Watch your fellow co-workers for the following signs:
- Cool, pale clammy skin
- Heavy sweating
- Dizziness or fainting
- Muscle aches / heat cramps
- Intense thirst
- Very high body temperature, over 40° Celsius or 104° Fahrenheit.
How can you avoid heat exhaustion?
- Acclimatize yourself to working in hot conditions if you’ve been away from work or are just starting a new job.
- If possible, move tasks indoors or into the shade.
- Stay out of the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- Drink plenty of water (about 1 litre every hour).
- Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol which can dehydrate you.
- Wear a hat, sunglasses and loose-fitting protective clothing.
- Take a cool shower or bath.
- Apply sunscreen regularly.
- Sprinkle water on skin or keep a damp cloth on back of neck.
For more information on working under hot conditions, see the WorkSafe publications, Working Under Hot Conditions and Hot Conditions Guidelines, below: