GAS, equipment and safety specialist BOC provides advice to industry about how they can safeguard themselves from heat stress this summer – a must-read for all manufacturing workers.
With the Australian summer shaping up to be a scorcher, workers in industrial environments who are regularly exposed to heat in their operations need to pay special attention to what their body is telling them about its stress levels.
Summer isn’t just about protecting your skin from sunburn, but also staying hydrated and having regular breaks to ensure you don’t suffer from heat stress.
According to BOC senior product manager of safety, Joe Martinez, both managers and employees should take responsibility for protecting themselves against the heat, especially while working in harsh conditions.
“Working in a hot environment can cause the body to overheat, or suffer heat stress," Martinez said.
“Heat exhaustion can result if fluids are not taken to replace those lost by sweating. In the extreme, heatstroke may occur, and this condition can be fatal.
“Precautions should be taken and work regimes adjusted to ensure that deep body temperature is maintained within its required operating range.”
BOC advises that there are a number of factors which contribute to increased body temperatures for workers such as metabolism (processing food), physical activity, ambient air temperature, radiation from the sun and any hot objects nearby.
“If you are required to work in a hot environment, like in the furnace area of a steelworks or glassworks, in a boiler house, or have to weld on, or in, a preheated vessel, for example, you must take steps to prevent your deep body temperature from rising dangerously high,’’ Martinez said.
Martinez advises that the human body only functions properly if the temperature deep within it is maintained between about 37 and 38°C; heat stress on the body occurs when the deep body temperature rises above about 38°C.
According to Martinez, the early signs of heat related illness can include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting and fainting.
BOC’s recommendations for workers in heat
- Always eat a healthy breakfast then eat high energy and easily digested foods throughout the day;
- Drink an electrolyte replacement drink, regularly before, during and after work, more on hotter days;
- Use fans or other forced air ventilation to aid cooling.
- Wear clothing specifically designed to keep you cool, such as cooling liners and beanies for hard hats, cool-off neck ties and cooling vests;
- Work in short periods followed by longer rest periods.
BOC’s first aid advice for heat-affected people
- Transfer casualty to a cool place.
- Remove any heavy, restrictive clothing.
- Give plenty of fluid, to be taken in sips.
- Transfer casualty to a cool place and remove clothing.
- Always seek medical advice, heat stroke can kill!