Working in the heat: Health impacts and job performance

Working in the heat can increase the chance for mistakes on the job

Heat generic

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – It’s been a scorcher here in the Valley over the last few days, forcing many to work in temperatures close to 100 degrees.

Every year, thousands of people suffer from heat related illnesses, which can be very dangerous.

Northwestern Medicine’s Doctor Christopher Hogrefe says caution needs to be used when working outside. Taking breaks and keeping hydrated are important, but there is more to staying safe in extreme heat.

“Whether it is every 15 minutes just to take a brief break to grab a drink of water, trying to stay in the shade as much as possible, and sometimes that requires taking a break as much as possible,” Hogrefe said. “It’ s paramount to stay hydrated, whether that’s with water or some electrolytes solution that can help to replenish all of the things that you lose when you sweat.”

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as the body continues to store heat, a person begins to lose concentration and has difficulty focusing on a task, may become irritable or sick, and often loses the desire to drink.

Heat exhaustion is the body’s natural response to the loss of water and involves heavy sweating. Signs include headaches, nausea and dizziness.

Heat stroke – the most dangerous type of heat related illness and could lead to death has some of the same signs as heat exhaustion but also could include confusion, fainting and seizures.

Hydration tips: (Courtesy: CDC)

  • Drink more water than usual.
  • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more fluids.
  • Drink from two to four cups of water every hour while working or exercising outside.
  • Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar.
  • Remind others to drink enough water.

Tips for those who work outside: (Courtesy CDC)

  • Prevent Heat Illness with Acclimatization
  • Drink from two to four cups of water every hour while working. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink.
  • Avoid alcohol or liquids containing large amounts of sugar.
  • Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
  • Ask if tasks can be scheduled for earlier or later in the day to avoid midday heat.
  • Wear a brimmed hat and loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Spend time in air-conditioned buildings during breaks and after work.
  • Encourage co-workers to take breaks to cool off and drink water.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you or a co-worker has symptoms of heat-related illness.

Comments are closed.