Hot working conditions and your health

Employees may face a number of risks on the job, dealing with the possibility of everything from injury to illness and more. However, when people are considering the possible hazards to their health, many forget to consider one key factor: temperature.

Hot temperatures on the worksite can pose a serious threat to workers, whether it comes from a poorly ventilated building or from workers being made to labor outdoors in blazing summer heat. Exposure to high temperatures can cause illnesses in some, and even result in death in extreme cases, so it should be treated seriously. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that fainting, sickness, difficulty concentrating, and a lack of desire to drink water are all signs of overheating. A worker may also become highly irritable and can become confused if they are not cooled down quickly. This is particularly dangerous if the worker has to operate heavy or harmful equipment, or works near toxic chemicals or fumes.

The National Weather Service also provides a heat index which can help workers determine if the temperature conditions are too unsafe to work in. It shows the most dangerous temperatures and has a sliding scale of a worker's increasing chances of heat-related disorders in relation to said temperatures. It also advises the level of protection, precaution and awareness that workers should exert if they are laboring in an environment with high heat.

Generally speaking, measures should be taken to keep workers safe if they absolutely must be working in hot conditions. However, certain temperatures are simply too hot to be working in safely and can lead to injuries ranging from mild to severe.

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