Protecting Workers From Heat-Related Illness

June 29, 2023

A man mows the thick grass with a gasoline trimmer

With the warm weather season upon us, we need to focus more on how to keep ourselves and our city staff healthy in the heat.

Heatstroke is one of the greatest risks when working outdoors in the high temperatures of summer. It can occur within 10-15 minutes of the body’s sweating mechanism failing and the body temperature rising.

Heat exhaustion is a less intense form of heatstroke that can occur after prolonged exposure to high temperatures over a period of time. People most prone to heat exhaustion include those that work outdoors in high temperatures.

Signs and symptoms of heat stroke:

  • High body temperature (above 103 degrees orally)
  • Lack of sweating
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness, weakness
  • Dizziness, headaches, fainting
  • Nausea, vomiting

How do you prevent heatstroke and heat exhaustion?

  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Wear sunscreen to prevent sunburn and reapply it intermittently.
  • Take breaks in air conditioning (either indoors or in an air-conditioned vehicle).
  • Drink plenty of fluids, often and BEFORE you are thirsty. Drink water every 15 minutes.
  • Avoid beverages that contain alcohol and caffeine.
  • Replace salt and minerals with sports drinks.
  • Schedule outdoor work early to avoid prolonged exposure during the day’s hottest periods.
  • Use the buddy system to monitor the condition of your co-workers.
  • Use cooling towels or cooling headbands to help regulate your body temperature.

For more information about how to protect your staff from heat-related illnesses and injuries, please contact your LMCIT loss control consultant. If you aren’t sure who to contact, please email Julie Jelen at [email protected] and she will help you find the loss control consultant who works with your city.