Safety Awareness: Heat-Related Illnesses

May 15, 2019

During the hot and humid months of the year, one common workplace accident results from heat-related illnesses. Heat stress can affect employees working outdoors and can also affect those exposed to direct physical contact with hot equipment.

Below are different types of heat-related illnesses and some notable symptoms.

  • Heat Stroke: the most serious heat related-illness, heat stroke occurs when the body cannot control its temperature causing rapid increase. The body cannot cool itself, and the sweating mechanism fails. Heat stroke can be fatal if not immediately treated. Symptoms include extremely high body temperature, rapid breathing and heart rate, hot, dry skin or profuse sweating, confusion or loss of consciousness.
  • Heat Exhaustion: an excessive loss of salt (electrolytes) or water through sweating. Symptoms include heavy sweating, headache, dizziness, thirst, and decreased urine output.
  • Heat Rash: skin irritation caused by excessive sweating. Symptoms include red cluster of blisters or pimples that usually appear on the neck, upper chest and elbow creases.
  • Heat Cramps: loss of body salts (electrolytes) and fluids during sweating. Low salt (electrolytes) levels in the body can cause muscle cramps, spasms and pain. 
  • Heat Syncope: fainting episode or dizziness occurring due to prolonged standing. Contributing factors include dehydration and lack of acclimation. Symptoms include fainting, dizziness and light-headedness.

Heat syncope and heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke. Plan accordingly. Educate employees to pay attention to their body when working in hot conditions. Visit our Online Safety Library for more information on heat stress safety and prevention.