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August 2019 - Heat-Related Illness

Alert of the Month

High temperatures and sunshine can be a wonderful thing when enjoying time at the lake or on the beach, but can cause serious health issues for people working outdoors. The wide variety of job roles and often rigorous physical activity in forestry can put workers at risk for heat-related illness if not managed properly.

Types of heat-related illnesses

The most serious types of heat-related illnesses experienced by workers are heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Recognition

Symptoms of heat exhaustion may start suddenly, and include:
 
Heat exhaustion may quickly develop into heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stroke include:
  • Skin is pale, cool and moist
  • Nausea or irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle cramps or weakness
  • Feeling faint
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Thirst
  • Heavy sweating
  • High body temperature.
  • Skin that may be red, hot and dry
  • Heavy sweating or sweating may have stopped
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fast heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Very high body temperature.

 

What to do

Prevention is the best option for dealing with heat-related illnesses in the workplace. Prevention includes taking adequate rest periods in a cool location, acclimatizing to the heat, adjusting the type and timing of work, and drinking plenty of water. The WorkSafeBC website has a number of resources for preventing heat-related illnesses, located at www.worksafebc.com/en/health-safety/hazards-exposures/heat-stress.

If prevention did not work and a worker is dealing with heat stress, consider the following:

First aid for heat exhaustion includes:
 
First aid for heat stroke includes:
  • Call first aid. Stay with the person until help arrives.
  • Move to a cooler, shaded location.
  • Remove as many clothes as possible (including socks and shoes).
  • Apply cool, wet cloths or ice to head, face or neck. Spraying with cool water and fanning will also help.
  • Encourage the person to drink water, clear juice, or a sports drink.
  • Do not cool too much. If the person starts to shiver, stop cooling.
  • Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Get medical treatment immediately.
  • Stay with the person until help arrives.
  • Move to a cooler, shaded location.
  • Remove as many clothes as possible (including socks and shoes).
  • Wet the person's skin and clothing with cool water. Continue to cool during transportation.
  • Apply cold, wet cloths or ice to head, face, neck, armpits, and groin.
  • Do not try to force the person to drink liquids.

 

Additional Information:

 

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Print version of Augest, 2019 alert of the month
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