Manufacturing Risk Advisor: Heart-related Illnesses – Duncan Financial Group
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Manufacturing Risk Advisor: Heart-related Illnesses

Portrait of workers, technicians, professional engineers, hats, tired from the stress of hot summer weather, production line, work and inspection, factory, machine, heavy industry production process.

Manufacturing Risk Advisor: Heart-related Illnesses

While it’s best to minimize work in high temperatures, the nature of certain manufacturing jobs does not always allow for that. When working in high temperatures, a worker’s body temperature can rise to dangerously high levels, putting them at risk of serious health complications. Typically, the human body cools itself through sweating. But sweating is often insufficient in hot environments, and dangerous heat illnesses can occur.

Recognizing and Treating Heat Illnesses

As an employer, you need to know how to recognize and treat heat illnesses to protect your workers. Understanding how to respond to the symptoms of heat illnesses can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. The following are the different signs, symptoms and treatment methods for common heat illnesses:

  • Heat cramps occur as heavy sweating from strenuous activity drains a person’s body of fluid and salt.
    • Symptoms: Painful cramps in commonly worked muscles (e.g., the arms, legs or stomach), cramps that come on suddenly, and muscle spasms or pain
    • Treatment: Move to a cool, shaded area; loosen clothing and stretch affected muscles; drink cool, salted water or an electrolyte-replacement beverage; and seek medical aid if cramps are severe or don’t go away after fluid replenishment
  • Heat exhaustion occurs when heavy sweating from strenuous activity drains a person’s body of fluid and salt. It is often caused by fluid loss and inadequate salt and water intake. During heat exhaustion, the body’s cooling system begins to break down.
    • Symptoms: Heavy sweating; cool, moist skin with body temperatures over 100.4 F; weak or fast pulse; normal or low blood pressure; weakness, nausea and vomiting; thirst and panting or rapid breathing; blurred vision; headache, lightheadedness or dizziness; and irritability
    • Treatment: Seek medical attention immediately; move the person to a cool, shaded area; loosen or remove clothing; provide cool water and never leave the person alone; and cool the person with cold compresses, ice and ice packs
  • Heatstroke occurs when a person’s body has used up its water and salt reserves. Another common form of heatstroke is exertion heatstroke, which generally occurs when a person engages in strenuous activity for long periods in the heat. In these instances, the body’s cooling system is exhausted and cannot eliminate excess heat.
    • Symptoms: Body temperatures increase over 104 degrees Fahrenheit; weakness; confusion; hot, dry and red skin; profuse sweating; fast pulse; headache or dizziness; and fainting or convulsions
    • Treatment: Call an ambulance, as heatstroke can kill quickly; place the worker in a shady, cool area; remove excess clothing; fan the victim; spray the victim with cool water; apply ice packs, cool compresses or ice if available; provide cool water; and never leave the person alone

    When it comes to heat illnesses, prevention is equally important in terms of safeguarding workers. Often, heat illness prevention involves reducing a worker’s activity levels in hot environments, instructing workers to avoid heat where possible, requiring workers to drink fluids regularly and using the buddy system to help spot signs of heat illnesses. Specific prevention measures can depend on the type of work being performed, so it’s important that employers work alongside qualified safety professionals to assess heat illness risks and implement workplace controls.

    For more risk management information, contact Duncan Financial Group today