This month’s Safety Focused newsletter provides information about heatstroke prevention and treatment. It also contains information addressing workplace fatigue.
Managing the Risk of Heatstroke
When working in an environment with hot temperatures, high humidity or prolonged exposure to the sun, the risk for heat illness rises. It is important to understand how to keep yourself as safe as possible in these conditions. Common types of heat illness include heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
The most dangerous type of heat illness is heatstroke. Heatstroke occurs when your body is no longer capable of controlling its temperature. During heatstroke, your body’s temperature can rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher in as little as 10 to 15 minutes. Symptoms of heatstroke include:
- Body temperature over 103 degrees Fahrenheit
- Hot, dry, damp or red skin
- Strong, rapid pulse
- Passing out
- Lack of sweating
Heatstroke can result in death or permanent disability if treatment is not provided in a timely manner. If you notice that a co-worker may be suffering from heatstroke, take the following steps:
- Call 911.
- Move your co-worker to a cooler location.
- Do not give your co-worker anything to drink.
- Try to lower your co-worker’s body temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath.
In order to prevent heat illness, follow these tips:
- Stay hydrated—Drink water frequently, and avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeinated soft drinks.
- Dress light—Wear loose-fitting, light-colored and lightweight clothing.
- Pace yourself—Take your time, and avoid overexerting yourself.
- Know the signs—Be aware of heatstroke symptoms, and look out for both yourself and your co-workers.
If you have any questions about working safely in extreme heat and humidity, talk to your supervisor.
Managing Fatigue at Your Job
Even for someone who loves going to work every day, it may be inevitable that you will need a break. For the good of your own personal health and safety, it’s important to recognize fatigue as a serious issue.
What Is Fatigue?
Being fatigued is a more serious issue than simply being tired or sleepy. Fatigue stems from extended mental or physical exhaustion, and can be dangerous due to its adverse effects on things like reaction time, motor skills and alertness. People who are fatigued may also be more likely to suffer from heart disease and depression.
In addition to potentially having negative effects on your own health and productivity, trying to work while fatigued can result in serious safety issues for both you and your co-workers. According to the National Safety Council, approximately 13% of injuries suffered in the workplace can be attributed to fatigue, and 43% of Americans say that they may be too tired to be able to function safely at work.
There are a number of methods that you can use to try to help yourself fend off fatigue. Consider these tips:
- Sleep well—Establish a regular sleep schedule, make your bedroom as dark as possible and avoid using your cellphone while in bed.
- Eat right—Drink plenty of water throughout the day, limit your caffeine and alcohol intake, and avoid eating large meals close to your regular bedtime.
- Get some exercise—Find time to get in a workout during the day. Even modest exercise, like taking a walk, can help you to both sleep better and feel less stressed.
Although it may be ideal to prevent yourself from becoming fatigued in the first place, it’s important to be prepared in case it does become an issue. Remember these tips if you find yourself feeling fatigued at work:
- Grab a healthy snack—While foods that are high in fat or sugar can lead to an energy slump, there are many healthier options, such as fruits and nuts, that can provide a boost.
- Loosen up—Taking a minute or two for a short walk or to stretch out your muscles can increase your body’s blood flow and your overall energy levels.
Fatigue is a serious issue that can lead to many other physical and mental health problems. If you are suffering from fatigue, inform your supervisor and talk to your doctor.
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