When the weather starts to heat up, people who work outside need to watch out. Heat-related illness can be serious or even deadly, particularly when you spend most of your time out in the hot sun. Here are five signs to watch for in yourself and the members of your team.
Heat illness can be extremely dangerous on the construction site, particularly when it leads to dizziness or disorientation. Not only are people at risk of getting sick as a result of the heat, but they may also be working with equipment that makes them a danger to themselves and others. People who are feeling dizzy or disoriented may not realize that they are making unsafe choices. For example, they may stumble into areas where others are operating equipment. Feeling lightheaded is a good indicator that you need to stop what you are doing and get to a safe place for a break.
When people first start to suffer the effects of heat illness, their bodies will produce sweat as a way to help cool them down. As such, people who are dealing with some kind of heat illness might be sweaty or damp. As the body loses the ability to cool down, they often stop sweating. It can be hard to tell sometimes, as someone may have damp, sweaty clothing but dry skin. Be wary of the amount of sweat that you produce, particularly on very hot days. Drink plenty of fluids to replenish your body’s supply. A lack of sweating might be a sign that the heat illness is getting worse.
When people sweat a lot, they lose more than just water. The sweating process depletes the body of minerals and salts. Athletes often consume specifically engineered sports drinks that are designed to help them replenish everything that they lose during a workout. People working on the construction site may need to do the same. If they don’t and choose instead to drink more water or coffee, they may start to notice muscle cramps or pain. These cramps begin as a result of the muscles losing those salts and minerals, which causes them to seize.
Once people start to feel dizzy, they may suffer from headaches or nausea. These symptoms can be caused by a variety of factors and might be too easily dismissed as an upset stomach or insufficient sleep. However, these conditions can make it harder for people to pay attention to what they’re doing, which increases the risk on the site. As such, if you notice either of these, you should encourage the person to take a break, find a cool place to sit down and medicate for the discomfort as needed. If it doesn’t go away or gets worse, they consider seeking medical attention.
As your internal temperature starts to increase, your heart may attempt to compensate by increasing its function. As a result, people who are starting to feel the effects of heat exhaustion or heat stroke will often have a pulse that is faster than normal. A fast pulse isn’t something that people will necessarily notice, particularly if they are doing a lot of heavy labor. That’s why it is important to pay attention to the people working around you, and check-in with them periodically to see how they’re doing. Someone with a fast pulse that feels weak probably needs medical attention to keep it from getting worse.
Avoiding heat-related illness is difficult for construction workers in the summer, but it’s not impossible. Following these tips might help you to save a life. To get started on your construction career path, contact CSLS today!