Heat Stress occurs when the body is unable to cool enough to maintain a healthy temperature. Exposure to extreme heat can result in occupational illnesses and injuries such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps or heat rashes. It can also increase the risk of injuries in workers as it may result in sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, and dizziness. Burns may also occur as a result of accidental contact with hot surfaces or steam.
Facilities Services and other employees working in the University may sometimes be exposed to a hot environment in performing their jobs. This occurs through high air temperatures, radiant heat sources, high humidity, direct contact with hot objects, strenuous physical activities, and other outdoor operations conducted in hot weather and direct sun.
The following indicators are telltale signs of an environment that is too hot:
- Rise in temperature
- Increase in humidity
- Sun getting stronger
- No air movement
- No controls in place to reduce the impacts of equipment that radiates heat
- Worn or torn protective clothing
- Strenuous work, etc.
Affected employees should contact EH&S to monitor heat exposure of individual jobs and make recommendations to reduce the risk of heat stress. Job-related factors that affect heat stress include work rate and physical effort required, type of clothing and protective equipment used, and duration of an activity. All of these factors need to be evaluated in order to minimize their impact on the worker. Supervisors should conduct hazard assessments to determine heat stress-related jobs as listed previously. Safety precautions must be implemented through engineering, work practices and administrative controls to reduces the employee from being exposed to extreme heat.
For more information on heat stress, please visit the links in “Resources”.