Heat related illness is a concern in any weather – anywhere! As we are in the dog days of summer, working in abnormally hot conditions offers up an all too common set of conditions to guard against… heat related illnesses.
2 of the most common heat related illnesses are Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke.
Heat Exhaustion is a condition whose symptoms may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse accompanied by cold, pale, and clammy skin. The loss of body salt causing muscle cramps is a major contributor to heat exhaustion.
Heat Stroke results from prolonged exposure to high temperatures, usually in combination with dehydration, which leads to failure of the body’s temperature control system. The medical definition of heat stroke is a core body temperature greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It can affect the body’s central nervous system and cause nausea, vomiting, seizures and in severe cases result in loss of conscious or coma.
Protecting your workers from both conditions is an essential part of safety in the work environment. Whenever possible adjusted workloads, considering working conditions, shade and a well-ventilated environment should be provided. In the real world this is not always possible however, so we must find ways to help protect our most valuable asset, our employees. There are a whole host of PPE products at your disposal that can help keep workers cool and/or keep from overheating.
Use of protective clothing such as coveralls is common in many applications. While they can provide additional protection, they can also inhibit or reduce the body’s ability to cool and could cause overheating. Consider the use of lightweight materials such as Nylon, Lycra or polyester. There are many products available that actually wick moisture away from the body allowing the evaporative cooling process to continue.
There are many items available today to help workers remain protected and cooler in extreme conditions. Cooling vests that actually have changeable inserts or are soaked, sunshades, cooling bandannas and towels, as well as high performance fabrics that promote additional cooling by enhancing the body’s natural evaporative process.
When using products that are soaked or wet as part of the intended use it is important to remember to continue to re-wet the item over the course of the time. Evaporative cooling products most efficiently cool when the product remains moist and is cooler than the wearers body temperature. The temperature difference here allows proper heat transfer from the wearer to the product being used.
Always keep in mind that no working environment is the same. Specs provided on any PPE are general in nature and performance can and will vary depending on conditions at the time such as temperature, relative humidity, and proper use. Safety Products Inc. has a full assortment of items to help mitigate high heat situations and worker safety.
So, remember to stay cool and don’t stress!