Working and Heat Stress

Heat stress is not the same as extreme dehydration. It develops when the body is put under pressures to the point it can no longer regulate its own heat. Many positions, both indoors and outdoors, are predisposed to heat stress because of environmental factors within the workplace. If symptoms of heat stress are ignored, it can lead to heat exhaustion or the possibly fatal condition of heat stroke. Heat exhaustion symptoms do not always show up before heat stroke. Both heat-related illnesses can be avoided by taking preventative measures and being aware of the warning signs.

Heat stroke symptoms

  • Red, hot, and dry skin
  • High body temperature
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Convulsions

Heat exhaustion symptoms

  • Headache
  • Sweaty Skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

What to do

  • Try to drink water every 15 minutes
  • Drink beverages containing electrolytes to prevent cramping
  • Rest in a safe, cool, and shaded area
  • When your job allows, wear a hat and light, loose clothing
  • Look out for symptoms of heat stress in yourself and others
  • Notify your supervisor if symptoms of heat stress occur
  • Call 911 if symptoms of heat stroke occur

UO work locations where heat stress may occur

  • Outdoors
  • Roofs
  • Attics
  • Mechanical rooms
  • Older buildings without cooling or good ventilation
  • Tunnels

Occupational Health and Safety Contacts