How Warehouses Can Reduce Heat Related Illness
The summer season is enjoyable for kids, schoolteachers, and winter ski instructors. After all, they can take time off and actually enjoy the warm weather while the rest of us must work. And for those individuals who earn a living by working in a warehouse, the summer heat is rarely a welcome situation. Although many warehouses are now more employee friendly, with improved ventilation and air conditioning, the threat of heat stroke, or heat-related illness in warehouses remains constant.
Being aware of the symptoms associated with heat stress and understanding how to treat this common problem to avoid injury, illness, or in the worst cases, a fatality is absolutely crucial.
In this blog post, we will explain 4 of the most common heat-related physical injuries that are likely to occur in manufacturing and warehouse locations in the United States. We will also provide some simple tips on how to deal with these situations as they occur!
Explaining the Top 4 Heat-Related Stress and Illness
In order to become a manager or supervisor, displaying the ability to react to situations in a calm and professional manner is crucial. One item that tends to be overlooked in training of warehouse leadership is the ability to properly identify the symptoms that are related to heat stress or another heat related illness.
Arguably, one of the most common heat related illnesses in warehouse operations is heat exhaustion.
This issue occurs when an individual becomes dehydrated due to a loss of electrolytes and water. This happens when the body begins to sweat all of these out of the body through increased perspiration. Some of the common symptoms may include excessive sweating, headaches, nausea and dizziness, weakness, irritability, and high body temperature.
This is a serious medical condition that requires immediate care from a medical professional. It is always best to call 911, or personally transport an employee to an emergency room as soon as possible. If you are located far from a hospital, it is important to take immediate measures to rehydrate and cool that individual.
It is best to supply them with cool water, have them take slow sips, and apply a cold compress behind their neck.
The next common heat related illness is heat cramps or spasms.
This also tends to occur from excessive sweating and a loss of electrolytes. In most cases, the symptom is a constant cramping of calf muscles or leg muscles. However, it can also include arm and back muscles as well. The best way to treat this is by giving the employee plenty of water along with electrolyte replacement fluids. Additionally, salty snacks such as peanuts work wonders so long as they are not allergic.
Lastly, keep them in a cool location for a minimum of 30 minutes.
While this is not a life-threatening issue, it can easily affect their ability to work properly and therefore could lead to an accident.
When people are subject to standing for long periods of time without physical motion while in extreme heat, they can develop what is called heat syncope.
This is a condition that results in dizziness, fainting, or light-headedness and is typically associated with over-exerting oneself while in extreme heats. Basically, the body tries to cool itself down, in turn restricting blood vessels and cutting off blood supply to the brain.
Generally speaking, this is an issue related to poor acclimatization to the temperatures.
In many ways, the treatment for this type of condition is the same as a heat cramp. However, if the individual loses consciousness, seek professional medical attention immediately.
In 2018, more than 600 individuals in the United States died due to heat stroke. This serious medical condition occurs when the human body temperature rises significantly. It happens because their internal body temperature heat regulatory systems fail.
Heat stroke tends to produce confusion, extremely high body temperatures, and even seizures in extreme cases. Transport them to a medical facility immediately.
Most heat related illness is preventable. Managers and supervisors can reduce the potential for these medical situations by following a few simple rules…
- Educate: Making sure all employees not the dangers and symptoms of heat related illness and fatigue is the first step.
- Hydrate: Keeping employees hydrated can avoid several of these heat-related issues. Always make sure to allow employees to keep a water bottle with them during hot and humid conditions.
- Circulate: Air circulating through the warehouse can also reduce the internal temperature of the warehouse.
Heat-related illnesses can be avoided by being proactive. Being proactive about improving the working conditions, keeping employees hydrated, and being aware of symptoms, before they become serious situations.
Lastly, but most importantly, all warehouses should have safety training programs in place. All employees should be trained on how to recognize heat related medical issues and how to properly respond to them.