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Extreme heat is a serious hazard for employees, especially those who work outdoors or in hot environments. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are two of the most common heat-related illnesses, and they can be fatal if not treated promptly. Here’s everything you should know about the dangers of extreme heat, the effects of heat-related illnesses and how to recognize them, and what you can do to protect employees on the job from excessive heat.
Being exposed to extreme heat for any significant amount of time can cause a number of health problems. These problems include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash, just to name a few. Here’s what each of these heat-related illnesses looks like,
Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are caused by the body’s inability to cool itself. This can happen when the body is exposed to high temperatures for a prolonged period of time, or when the body is working hard in hot weather.
Because heat stroke and heat exhaustion are such serious conditions, it’s important to understand what can cause them or what factors can increase the risk of these heat-related illnesses. They include the following:
Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are easily the most dangerous extreme heat-related illnesses that someone can suffer from. The symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion can be similar, which can sometimes make it difficult to identify a heat illness as one versus another. However, there are some key differences, and it’s important to understand those differences so that someone suffering from heat stroke or heat exhaustion can be treated effectively. Here’s how their symptoms differ.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. If heat stroke is not treated, it can lead to brain damage, organ failure, and death. Heat exhaustion is less serious than heat stroke, but it can still be dangerous. If heat exhaustion is not treated, it can progress to heat stroke.
Thankfully, treating both heat stroke and heat exhaustion involves identical steps. The treatment for both is to cool the body down as quickly as possible. This can be done by:
However, it’s important to note that if you suspect that someone has heat stroke, call 911 immediately. Do not leave the person alone until help arrives.
There are several things you can do to avoid suffering from extreme heat, including:
Employers have a legal responsibility to provide a safe work environment for their employees. This includes taking steps to protect employees from heat-related illness. This means that employers should provide shade and water for employees working in hot environments, schedule work breaks in a cool place, train employees on the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness and have a plan in place to deal with heat emergencies.
Remember that employers who fail to provide a safe work environment for their employees may be held liable for any injuries or illnesses that result. This makes it even more important to have extreme heat safety protocols in place for employees. Not only does doing so protect your company’s workers, but it also safeguards the overall success and productivity of your organization as well.
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