Heat stroke is a severe heat illness capable of fatal injury if not promptly treated. Every year, thousands of workers are affected by heat-related illness. The vast majority of these workers are in strenuous, hazardous environments where high levels of heat are present. It’s in these work environments where managers must remain vigilant and make sure workers are aware of heat illnesses like heat stroke.
One way to preserve that awareness is through occupational safety signage. Used to convey high-priority information about nearby hazards, safety signage is purpose-built to maintain awareness about excessive heat.
The Signs, Symptoms and Dangers of Heat Stroke
The first step in preventing heat exhaustion, heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses is knowledge. Specifically, knowledge of how heat stroke presents. Here are the signs and symptoms to look for:
- Loss of consciousness
- Profound confusion
- Ataxia (imbalance and muscle weakness)
- Dangerously high body temperature
Ideally, heat illnesses are caught before they progress to heat stroke. Less severe forms of heat injury include heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rash. Heat exhaustion typically comes before heat stroke and catching it at this stage means averting a potential emergency. The symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
- Elevated body temperature
- Excessive sweating or lack of it
- Lack of urination
- Mood swings and irritability
If heat exhaustion symptoms are promptly treated, they can be reversed. Treatment includes moving the person to a cool, shaded area – preferably with circulating air. They should also be given water to drink and refrain from any strenuous activity until they see a physician.
Heat stroke requires immediate, emergency treatment. In many cases, heat stroke results in lack of consciousness, which means multiple people will be needed to handle the patient. Treatment includes relocating the person to a cool, shaded place. Their clothing should be removed, and cool water applied to their skin. This can be sprayed on or applied using cool, wet towels. Towels and ice packs should also be placed in the armpits and around the groin, as this is where heat may be trapped.
If the person is conscious, they should be given water or slightly salty fluids (like sports drinks). Whether they are conscious or not, though, emergency personnel should be contacted immediately. Heat stroke can be fatal if not treated promptly.
How Employers Can Avoid Heat Stroke Risks on the Job Site
Given the potentially fatal risk of heat hazards, many companies are taking steps to minimize their impact. Much of this effort is invested in heat-specific safety plans that address heat hazards in detail. Such a plan typically includes the following:
- The contact information for any personnel responsible for enforcing safety processes
- The location and nature of all heat hazards on the jobsite
- The location of all heat safety equipment and resources
- Any safety processes dedicated specifically to heat safety
- What to do in the event of a heat-related emergency
- The contact information for any nearby emergency medical facility
A heat safety plan organizes the company’s efforts to combat heat risks, and these efforts should be reflected at every level of the organization, down to the people in the field. If everyone is aware of heat stroke’s signs and symptoms, emergency procedures can be put into action sooner.
One Heat Stroke Solution: Occupational Safety Signage
Awareness is key to preventing serious heat injury, and one way to maintain that awareness is through safety signage. Occupational safety signage is installed close to workplace hazards and is effective in communicating essential safety information to employees and visitors.
This information is conveyed in a stark manner that relies heavily on color and iconography to work. The objective is to get the point across quickly.
Safety signage can be used to point out a huge variety of hazards, including falls, trips, slips, electrocution, heavy equipment traffic, fire, chemical, biological, and heat hazards. With signage in areas where heat hazards are present, workers will be primed to spot the signs of heat stroke and exhaustion as they emerge, allowing them to act quickly.
How a Commercial Printer Can Help with High Quality Safety Signage
Occupational safety signage follows a set of design standards established by OSHA and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The focus is on simplifying the message and maximizing its visibility. Commercial printers experienced in safety signage are familiar with OSHA and ANSI standards and will be able to apply them.
Commercial printers are also skilled in specialty printing processes like dibond printing. Dibond printing is used to create aluminum signage, which is far more durable than paper signage. Because commercial printers can produce aluminum signage, they frequently partner with construction companies and other businesses that operate hazardous job sites. Their industry-specific experience means commercial printers can provide superior customer service to construction companies and other similar businesses.
Further, commercial printers have the resources to quickly flex their output when needed. If a client suddenly requires a high-volume run of signage, a commercial printer can make the adjustment, which is another customer service advantage.
Heat Stroke Can Be Deadly, So Protect Your Crew with Awareness-Raising Occupational Safety Signage
Heat stroke claims dozens of lives every year and injures thousands more. But almost all of those deaths and injuries are preventable, as long as there are effective preventative measures in place. For worksites where heat is an ever-present concern, a heat-specific safety plan that includes strategically placed occupational safety signage is a good first step. Quality signage creates awareness, informs, and warns – and commercial printers are the experts in quality signage for keeping jobsites safe.