Photo: Mali Unaba, Creative Commons license
By taking the proper precautions, serious injury or death can be easily prevented.
There are two types of heat illness; heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
- Heat exhaustion symptoms include dizziness, headache, sweaty skin, fast heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, weakness, and cramps.
- Symptoms of heat stroke include red, hot, or dry skin, high body temperature, confusion, fainting, and convulsions. Both types of heat illness are very serious, and can lead to death.
Employers should learn to spot the signs of heat illness, and provide frequent rest breaks for workers, especially in high heat conditions. Plenty of water should be made available to workers as well. If possible, shade should be provided to workers (awnings, canopies, etc.) if it is not typically available.
Workers should also learn the symptoms of heat illness. Proper warm weather attire should be worn during hot weather; light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and a hat to protect the head. Water should be consumed every 15 minutes, even if workers are not thirsty. Frequent breaks should be taken in the shade to allow the body to cool down and rest.
The U.S. Department of Labor has provided several informational documents, as well as signage that can be posted on work sites or farms. This information should be made available to employees in order to help prevent heat illness from occurring. Please visit the following websites for more information about heat illness.