MySafetySign Blog

Different types of heat stress

Heat stress is common among workers like firefighters, factory workers, miners, bakers, and farmers, who are exposed to high temperatures, whether indoors or outdoors. Heat stress at workplace is the combined result of body heat generated through physical exertion, environmental factors, and the clothes you wear.

Heat stress takes various forms in heat-related illnesses like heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rashes. Let us look at all types of heat stress in detail.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat-related illness. In case of a heat stroke, the person is unable to regulate body temperature, which can rise to 1060F or more in just 10 to 15 minutes. As the body fails to dissipate heat, the body’s natural cooling mechanisms begin to fail and this could result in death or disability.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

First Aid for Heat Stroke

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to excessive loss of water and salt through vigorous sweating. In hot environments, seniors or workers with high blood pressure are at a higher risk of heat exhaustion.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

First Aid for Heat Exhaustion

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps are also a form of heat exhaustion. When the body sweats extensively, the body’s salt and moisture levels drop, causing painful cramps.

Symptoms of Heat Cramps

First Aid for Heat Cramps

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise workers with heat cramps to consume water or energy drinks and to have a snack every 15 to 20 minutes. They should also avoid salt tablets.

Heat Rashes

Heat rash or prickly heat is skin irritation caused by extreme sweating during hot, humid weather.

Symptoms of Heat Rash

Preventive Measures for Heat Rash

Handy heat stress wallet card reminds trainers what to do to prevent heat stress among employees

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 37 workers died due to environmental heat exposure and 2,830 workers suffered nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in 2015.

Occupational heat stress occurs more quickly than one may realize. Employers must have effective prevention programs at the workplace to control heat stress. This includes acclimatizing workers to the heat, scheduling work earlier or later in the day, encouraging workers to take breaks in shade and encouraging workers to hydrate themselves by drinking 1 cup of water every 15–20 minutes. Employers should also provide hats and light-colored, heat-protective clothing to workers.