How can workers prevent heat related illnesses?
Whether you work outside and are exposed to the elements, or you work inside a hot and humid warehouse in Maryland, you may develop a heat-related illness as a result of your workplace environment. There are several types of illnesses, such as heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, that are often acquired after working in the heat for a prolonged period of time. In severe cases, a worker could experience a serious fever, dehydration, confusion, have convulsions or even lose consciousness altogether. Fortunately, there are some things that you and your employer can do to help prevent heat-related illnesses from occurring.
According to the Workers’ Compensation Fund, people who work in extreme heat should drink at least five ounces of water every 20 minutes throughout the course of the day. As your body sweats, it loses large amounts of water and it is essential to replace those lost fluids with water and electrolytes. Salt tablets can also help minimize the effects of water loss.
If you are just starting a job or are coming back to work from taking time off, it is wise to slowly adjust to the higher heat settings by taking frequent breaks. This will allow your body to acclimate to the temperature. Be sure to wear protective clothing, such a face shields, ventilated clothing or body coolers to minimize body heat. Employers also have a responsibility to ensure that your work area is properly ventilated. You should receive regular breaks and allowed access to water.
This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.