Don’t let heat stress get you down

Heat stressHeat stress won’t just slow you down—it also can be deadly.

“Heat stress is no joke,” noted Kevin Bartal, Virginia Farm Bureau’s safety coordinator. “Working out in the summer heat can be brutal on a person’s body, and the proper steps need to be taken to keep workers safe.”

He suggested preparing by having the proper tools on hand—such as sunscreen, cooling vests and hats, and hydration. The right training also is important so that workers know how to deal with the threat of heat stress.

Heat stress symptoms can include muscle spasms; abdominal, bicep, tricep, calf or thigh cramping; prickly heat and red spots and bumps or inflamed skin; dehydration; pale or clammy skin; fatigue and dizziness; shallow breathing; nausea and vomiting; rapid pulse; confusion or disorientation; or an altered mental state.

Any worker who appears affected by heat-related illness should receive first aid immediately.

Workers should not spend all day in the heat; they should get accustomed to hot environments by gradually increasing exposure.

“There are plenty of new products available to help keep people hydrated and cool in the heat,” Bartal added. “During these hot, sunny Virginia summers when temperatures are high, wear lighter-colored clothing and apply waterproof and sweat-proof sunscreen regularly to prevent sunburn. Drinking water or a sports drink and taking frequent breaks out of the sun is crucial.”

Plenty of cool water should be available in convenient, visible locations around work sites. Employees should drink water frequently without waiting until they are thirsty. Frequent breaks should be provided in shaded or air-conditioned areas.

For more information on how to keep people cool during peak heat, visit Grainger, a top source for safety products, at m.grainger.com/content/heatstress. Grainger is a partner of Virginia Farm Bureau and offers products to help keep employees and workplaces cool.

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