There’s no escaping the fact that the weather in Australia can get exceptionally hot. With temperatures regularly topping 40 degrees Celsius in the summer months, it’s vitally important for workplaces to have strategies for managing heat stress the same way you would for managing any other work related safety issue.
Nobody can control the weather, but you can control the risks to the health and wellbeing of your workforce by managing and preventing heat stress. Fail to do so and you’re putting your staff at danger of experiencing of the following heat stress related conditions.
Types Of Heat Stress
Heat Stroke: this is the most serious condition related to heat stress and should be considered a medical emergency. During episodes of heat stroke, the body becomes unable to control its temperature and the mechanism that controls sweating fails. This means that the body is unable to cool down and the core temperature quickly rises. This can result in serious injury, disability and even death if not treated quickly.
Heat Exhaustion: this occurs when the body loses too much water and salt due to excessive sweating. This is generally caused by exposure to high temperatures (especially with high humidity) and physically strenuous activities.
Heat Syncope: these are fainting episodes or dizziness that can occur from prolonged standing or a sudden rise from lying down or sitting. This is the result of low blood pressure caused by blood vessels in the body dilating to radiate heat.
Heat Cramps: these painful, involuntary muscle spasms usually affect workers who sweat a lot due to strenuous physical activity. This depletes the body’s electrolyte and moisture levels and can result in cramps.
Heat Rash: this painful skin irritation can be caused by excessive sweating in hot, humid weather and occurs when skin ducts are blocked and perspiration becomes trapped beneath the skin.
To avoid these conditions, make sure you check out our guide to preventing heat stress in the workplace.