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Taking the stress out of heat

Even though resources are plentiful and the cost of prevention is minimal, every year, thousands of workers become sick from exposure to heat and some die. Heat related exposure includes not only heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion, fainting and heat stroke, but also injuries from falls, equipment operation and accidents that occur when a worker has sweaty palms or fogged safety glasses or becomes dizzy, disoriented, or fatigued as a result of dehydration.

The problem is not limited to those who work outside. Those who work around machinery and in confined spaces, such as mechanics, steamfitters, ship builders, plumbers, bakery workers, boiler room workers, drycleaners and so on can be at risk for heat stress. Fully encapsulated protective clothing also increases sweat rates, accelerating dehydration.

Here are some basic steps to protect workers: