Published Date: 06/02/2014
By Reneé Watkins
With the summer months approaching, employers should take extra precaution if their employees work in hot environments. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious illnesses with the latter being fatal if not treated properly.
Heat exhaustion occurs when the body is unable to cool itself sufficiently. Victims of heat exhaustion should be placed in a cool area out of the sun. They should also drink plenty of water or other fluids. If heat exhaustion is not treated properly, it can lead to heat stroke.
Signs of heat-related illness are as follows:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle weakness and/or cramping
- Rapid heartbeat
Symptoms of heatstroke include high body temperature; the absence of sweating; hot, flushed dry skin; rapid pulse; difficulty breathing; strange behavior; disorientation; and seizures. Go to the emergency room, preferably via ambulance, if you believe you are experiencing heatstroke. Heatstroke is life threatening, and victims should be cooled down as quickly as possible.
Heat-related illnesses are covered by workers’ compensation in North Carolina if it can be shown that the employee’s job and/or place of employment put them at a greater risk than the general public. A Guide to Preventing Heat Stress can be purchased from the NC Department of Labor (NCDOL). To find out more about this and other NCDOL publications, go to http://j.mp/lab-p.