Beat the Heat

How to recognize, avoid and beat heat stress

As summer approaches and temperatures soar, it’s important to talk about how the heat impacts the workplace, whether indoors or out. High temperatures can affect worker safety and productivity, leading to adverse health effects. Ensuring that everyone understands how to recognize and protect against heat stress is essential.

Recognizing the Signs

The body maintains a temperature between 36°C and 38°C. While sweating helps cool us down, in hot environments it might not be enough. If the body heats up faster than it can cool, heat stress occurs, potentially leading to serious consequences such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. The good news? It’s preventable!

There are three main causes of heat stress in the workplace:

  • Environmental factors, including radiant heat from direct or indirect sunlight, air temperature hotter than skin temperature, and high humidity, impede the body’s ability to cool down.
  • Work-related factors, such as high levels of physical activity, increase body heat.
  • Employee-related factors like poor health, inadequate hydration, and excess or inappropriate PPE trap heat and prevent cooling.

Recognizing the symptoms of heat stress is important to prevent escalation. Look for:

  • Heat Cramps: Painful muscle cramps.
  • Heat Exhaustion: Shallow breathing, increased heart rate, weak and rapid pulse, sweating, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, fainting, and muscle cramps.
  • Heat Stroke: Hot, dry, and flushed skin, agitation and confusion, nausea and vomiting, seizures, irregular pulse, and shock.

When heat stress is suspected, always follow established emergency procedures and seek medical attention when necessary.

Staying Cool

  1. Stay Hydrated: ensure employees drink plenty of water throughout the day and avoid beverages with caffeine or alcohol as they can accelerate dehydration.
  2. Schedule Breaks: Regular breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas should occur at regular intervals to allow workers to cool down and hydrate.
  3. Appropriate Dress: Ensure your teams wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and appropriate summer-weight PPE to ensure skin can breathe and stay cool.
  4. Use Fans and Ventilation: Ensure your work area is well-ventilated and use fans to enhance air circulation.

Gearing Up

  1. Cooling Vests and Neck Wraps: These innovative products are designed to lower core temperature. Cooling vests can be worn under regular work attire, while neck wraps offer targeted cooling relief.
  2. Portable Fans and Misters: Personal fans and misters can provide immediate cooling, especially in areas with limited ventilation.
  3. Cooling Towels: Soaking these towels in water and placing them around the neck assists in quick cooling.

Keep your teams safe all summer with Bunzl Safety! From cooling wraps and towels to UV -protecting safety glasses and breathable gloves, you’ll find all the PPE solutions to keep safe in the heat and sun. Reach out to your local Bunzl Safety expert to build a summer safety assortment or visit shopbunzlsafety.ca today!

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