Safety Spotlight: Heat Stress + PPE

June 25, 2019

The start of the hot weather months has arrived! At CORECHEM, we are diving into Heat Stress training. If you or your employees work in the heat, especially while wearing bulky PPE, Heat Stress training is imperative.

Personal Protective Equipment for Chemical Handling

What is Heat Stress? 

It’s a 95 degree day. Sun is beating down on your back, and you’re pouring up chemicals with sweat dripping off your face. To top it off… you’re wearing a heavy rubber chemical suit.

You may not be entirely comfortable at this point, but when does the discomfort become a medical emergency? Well, here’s what we learned:

When you work in the heat, your body begins to sweat in an effort to cool the body. Sweat evaporation cools the body, but also depletes the body of necessary water and minerals.

Heat Stress: If you aren’t replenishing your body with the necessary fluid and minerals, or if the natural cooling process isn’t working (i.e. sweat cannot evaporate due to bulky PPE), Heat Stress can occur.

So, how do we prevent Heat Stress?

  • Firstly, if you aren’t acclimatized to working in hot conditions, get your body used to it a little at a time.
  • Remember that in high heat your natural thirst won’t be enough. You will have to make a conscious effort to replace the fluid & minerals you are losing.
  • Take breaks and eat light, cool meals.
  • Use a ‘buddy system’ to watch out for each other.
  • If you ignore the warning signs, you may get:

Heat Exhaustion: If your body is not able to re-establish normal fluid and mineral levels after several days of Heat Stress, your body begins to malfunction. This is Heat Exhaustion. Symptoms include: Nausea, Headache, Muscle Aches, Fatigue, Loss of Muscle Coordination, Hyperventilation, Dizziness, Excessive Thirst, Changed Heartbeat, Anger, Anxiety, or Impaired Judgement (affected worker may insist they are ‘fine’).

Heat Stroke: If you continue to ignore the warning signs of heat related illness, you may have a Heat Stroke. This is a serious and life threatening condition when the body can no longer cool itself at all. Symptoms include: Confusion, Fainting, Collapsing, Seizure, Dilated Pupils, Dry Skin, or Extremely High Body Temperature.

Stay safe this summer! Don’t get Heat Stress!