Summer and fall weather can result in sweltering temperatures in California. While outdoor workers face various hazards year-round, the potential of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, rash and cramps are prominent during this time of year.
Not only does heat illness and high temperatures affect outdoor workers, it can plague workers who operate indoors as well. When work environments do not provide the right type of ventilation or sufficient air conditioning, it can lead to serious issues for workers.
A look at the facts
People are most likely affected by heat stroke within the first few days or weeks of starting work in high temperature environments, because they have not yet acclimated to the heat. In fact 50 to 70% of heat illness cases occur during this time period, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Industries that have the highest rate of heat stroke cases, include construction, landscaping, agriculture, postage delivery, bakeries, laundry, steel mills, warehouses and oil fields.
Symptoms of heat illness
If the body’s internal thermostat is not able to cool the body down quickly enough, people may experience signs of heat illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, signs of heat illnesses include the following:
- Cramps, muscle spasms and pain
- Irritability and fatigue
- Fainting and dizziness
- Slurred speech
Other symptoms include heavy sweating, fast heart rate, nausea and vomiting. Furthermore, workers may have personal risk factors that increase their chances of getting heat illness.
Employers should take precautions to ensure workers have a safe environment to work in. People should have sufficient breaks, shade and water available at all times. Some employers may monitor heart rate and blood pressure as well.