The Heat of the Moment | New Heatstroke Guidance

Most workers have learned about the classic signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses. But new research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has provided new information on heat safety and illness. With the new findings, NIOSH recently updated their Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Heat and Hot Environments document, which had not be updated since 1986.

NIOSH now recognizes a type of heatstroke that is different from the type most workers are familiar with. Classic heatstrokes include symptoms such as lack of sweating, convulsions, and unconsciousness. Surprisingly, this type of heatstroke is less common than the newly recognized “exertional heatstroke”.

Exertional heatstroke is caused by strenuous work or exercise mixed with heat exposure. Symptoms include: muscle pain, back pain, stomach pain, cramping, weakness, swelling, profuse sweating, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and/or confusion. Seizures, cardiac issues, kidney or liver failure, and death can also be the end result of an exertional heatstroke. Workers experiencing severe pain, pallor, pulselessness, paresthesias, or paralysis should also seek immediate medical treatment, as these symptoms could indicate a heat-induced problem that could result in permanent limb function loss.

It’s imperative that workers with heatstroke symptoms be evaluated by a medical provider quickly, since early recognition and appropriate treatment reduces organ and tissue involvement and considerably reduces the death rate. Both types of heatstrokes are medical emergencies and workers with heatstroke symptoms should be cooled as quickly as possible. Methods of cooling workers while waiting for emergency personnel include: ice baths; wetting or applying ice to the head, neck, armpits and groin; and increasing air movement.

There are many things that can be done to reduce your risks of heatstroke. Workers and their supervisors need to ensure they are aware of:

Date Posted: 07-19-2016
Tags: heat safety, heatstroke definition, heatstroke symptoms, osha safety topics, osha workplace safety,
Categories: OSHA Safety,