Heat Stress and Other Illnesses to Know

man wearing a reflective vest, large work earmuffs, and utility gloves wiping sweat from his forehead

Heat-Related Illnesses Common Among Outdoor Workers

Outdoor workers are subject to a significantly higher level of environmental hazards during an average workday than in other types of jobs. Although employers should be diligent in providing resources to mitigate the effects of heat-related illnesses, thousands of people sustain these every year.

To provide an effective defense against these issues, it’s crucial to have an understanding of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and what you should do if experiencing them.

Heat Stress

Heat stress is the general term used to describe a group of disorders caused by overexposure to heat. The three most common heat-related illnesses are heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps.

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps are the mildest form of heat-related illness and usually affect those who sweat profusely during strenuous activity in high temperatures. The symptoms of heat cramps include muscle pain or spasms, usually in the abdomen, arms, or legs.

To treat heat cramps, move to a cooler location and lightly stretch and massage the affected muscle group. In severe cases, cramps may last up to an hour and require more aggressive treatment.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a condition caused by the body’s inability to cool itself. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Sweating profusely
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Irritability
  • Thirst
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Weakness

If you or someone you’re working with is displaying these symptoms, it’s important to move to a cooler area and drink plenty of fluids. In more severe cases, it may be necessary to seek medical attention.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a more serious condition that can occur when the body’s temperature rises to 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. This is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment. Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Body temperature above 104 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Red, hot, and dry skin with no sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

If you suspect someone has heat stroke, call 911 immediately and move them to a cool area. Cool the person down by putting them in a cold bath or using cool, wet towels on their skin. Do not give the person anything to drink.

Louisville Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Heat-related illnesses may seem like no big deal but can cause worse issues if left untreated. Both employers and workers should take the necessary steps to reduce the risks of these issues.

The team at Justice Law Office helps workers advocate for their rights following a work injury. Schedule a free consultation today by calling (502) 822-2230 to learn how we can help through the process.

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