Sweating, tiredness and increased thirst are all signs that the body is beginning to react to a hot environment, but when do these symptoms become more than just an adaption technique and start to become dangerous if left unchanged?

Workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments, both indoor and outdoor may be at risk of heat stress. Medical conditions that are created due to being exposed to extreme levels of heat include:

  • Heat cramps – painful cramps in muscles, caused by heavy sweating that uses up the body’s supply of salt and water.
  • Heat exhaustion – weakness, fatigue, dizziness, visual disturbance, feeling of intense thirst and heat, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, tingling and numbness of fingers and/or toes after exposure to a hot environment.
  • Heat rash (prickly heat) – an itchy rash of small raised red spots on the face, neck, back, chest and thighs caused by a hot and moist environment.
  • Heat stroke – a life threatening condition that requires immediate first aid and medical attention, caused by overexposure to heat and often with dehydration. Symptoms are dry, hot skin, high body temperature (possibly over 41°C) and may include mental confusion which can result in collapse and fitting.
  • Worsening of pre-existing illnesses and conditions.

Asking workers how they are feeling is one way to understand if they are starting to be affected by working in an excessive heat environment, but some signs are harder for humans to detect and may also take a little while to become physically noticeable.

Physiological monitors provide a more accurate overview of a person’s health because they are either worn on the body or use bodily functions for their measurement.

As technology has advanced worldwide, so has measuring heat stress within workers. The Kenzen Patch from Kenzen uses a sophisticated sensor to collect millions of precise data points to understand a worker’s well-being. Data is not only collected in real-time but can also be used to create actionable changes to prevent heat stress related illnesses occurring in the future.

Monitoring physiological signs and collecting data for future insight helps to reduce any uncertainty or miss-interpretation of how someone is feeling.

Take a look at our monitors for heat stress which includes the Kenzen Patch and HydraTrend which uses pH levels and specific gravity of urine to monitor an individual’s hydration levels.

Becoming more reliant on trackable data allows deeper insight to be achieved into when, where and why workers are becoming exposed to harmful levels of heat and therefore actionable prevention measures can be planned and implemented. 

Information referenced: www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au