Employees working outdoors are at much higher risk of suffering from heat-related illnesses during the summer months. In some cases, heat-related illnesses can be deadly. Heat strokes occur when the human body fails to regulate high temperatures. In fact, heat strokes typically occur after the core body temperature exceeds 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
It is extremely important for workers showing signs of heat stroke to receive immediate medical attention, as heat stroke can lead to brain damage or death.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has compiled a list of tips for recognizing the symptoms of heat stroke and how to respond. Workers suffering from heat stroke can experience flushed skin, rapid breathing, confusion, lack of sweating and fainting.
In addition, workers who are experiencing heat exhaustion—which can lead to heat stroke if left untreated—experience headaches, vomiting, dizziness, and fast heartbeats. Keep in mind, the symptoms for both heat stroke and heat exhaustion are similar. Both should be treated seriously by contacting emergency services and by taking actions to cool body temperature.
How Should You Respond to Workplace Heat Strokes?
The first step is always to call 911. While 911 is being called, move the worker to a cool, shady area and provide water. The next step is to cool down the worker’s body temperature by removing outer clothing and covering the person with cold water or ice packs. Fans can also help reduce body temperature.
Stay vigilant during the summer months because workplace heat strokes can strike with little warning. Outdoor workplaces should carry tools and supplies that can help bring down body temperature, such as cold water, clothes and fans. The consequences of heat strokes can be permanent or fatal, so never let your guard down.
The Columbus workers’ comp attorneys at Larrimer & Larrimer urge employers and outdoor workers to stay vigilant during warm summer months.