This toolbox talk is mainly focused on heat stress, how it effects the worker and what can be done when one experience heat stress symptoms.

What Is Heat Stress?

Heat stress occurs when the body cannot get rid of excess heat. When this happens, your body temperature rises, your heart rate increases, and you may experience a range of symptoms, from sweating (or lack of sweating) to dizziness and collapsing. Heat stress can result in a number of heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash.

What Causes Heat Stress?

Workers at risk of heat stress typically include outdoor workers and workers in warm or hot environments. Construction workers are especially susceptible to heat stress as they perform hard labor outdoors in the summer months.

A shortlist of factors that contribute to heat stress include:

  • High outdoor temperature
  • Layers of clothing/PPE
  • Dehydration
  • Decreased urination
  • High humidity
  • Direct sunlight
  • Intensity of work
  • Non-A/C workspaces

How To Treat Heat Stress & Heat-Related Illnesses

For anyone on the job site displaying HRI symptoms, you need to take immediate action. Stop them from working, move them into the shade, and push clear fluids. Have the person drink water and zero caffeine electrolyte replacement drinks. Popular drinks include:

  • Bottled water
  • Pedialyte
  • Powerade
  • Gatorade

Keep a close eye on the individual. If they recover with fluids and shade, send them home for the day. If they do not recover, or they deteriorate and show signs of heat exhaustion call 10177. Then, move them indoors and into an air-conditioned space if possible. Stay with the patient until EMS arrives.

NB: DO NOT put ice-cold water on a construction worker suffering heat exhaustion or heat stroke as this can cause them to go into shock making the situation worse.

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