Heat Stress Resource Page
This heat stress page provides resources on using the heat index to determine dangerously hot weather, recognizing the symptoms of heat illnesses, first aid solutions, creating heat stress training programs, scheduling acclimation to eliminate heat illnesses, avoiding dehydration, and more. Our aim is to provide you with the safety knowledge you need to keep yourself, and your team, safe while working outside this summer.
Heat Index Chart
The Heat Index is a measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature. To find the Heat Index temperature, look at the Heat Index Chart above or check our Heat Index Calculator. As an example, if the air temperature is 96°F and the relative humidity is 65%, the heat index--how hot it feels--is 121°F. The red area without numbers indicates extreme danger. The National Weather Service will initiate alert procedures when the Heat Index is expected to exceed 105°-110°F (depending on local climate) for at least 2 consecutive days.
Why humidity matters: Relative humidity is a measure of the amount of moisture in the air. Sweat does not evaporate as quickly when the air is moist as it does in a dry climate. Since evaporation of sweat from the skin is one of the ways the human body cools itself on a hot day, high humidity reduces our natural cooling potential and we feel hotter. Low humidity can also be a problem for outdoor workers in hot, desert-like climates. Sweat evaporates very rapidly in low humidity, which can lead to severe dehydration if a person does not drink enough water throughout the day.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The heat index values were devised for shady, light wind conditions, and exposure to full sunshine can increase heat index values by up to 15° Fahrenheit. To account for solar load, added precautions are recommended. See Protective Measures to Take at Each Risk Level.
NWS offers a slightly different Heat Index chart for area with high heat but low relative humidity.
How to Recognize the Symptoms of Heat Stress
Heat stroke, the most serious form of heat-related illness, happens when the body becomes unable to regulate its core temperature. Sweating stops and the body can no longer rid itself of excess heat. Signs include confusion, loss of consciousness, and seizures. Heat stroke is a medical emergency that may result in death! Call 911 immediately.
Heat exhaustion is the body's response to loss of water and salt from heavy sweating. Signs include headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, thirst, and heavy sweating.
Heat cramps are caused by the loss of body salts and fluid during sweating. Low salt levels in muscles cause painful cramps. Tired muscles—those used for performing the work—are usually the ones most affected by cramps. Cramps may occur during or after working hours.
Heat rash, also known as prickly heat, is skin irritation caused by sweat that does not evaporate from the skin. Heat rash is the most common problem in hot work environments.
OSHA/NIOSH Infosheet and NIOSH Fast Facts
Ergodyne Toolbox Talks
OSHA Fact Sheets and Quick Card
Heat Stress Guides
Heat Stress White Papers
Hydration: The Underappreciated Safety and Productivity Measure many Industrial Workplaces Miss
Source: Sqwincher and Safeopedia.com