January 15, 2020
Heat stress and heatstroke are one of the biggest health risks for workplaces during hot summer months. Workers who often work under hot conditions outside – like those in the construction and agriculture industries – are at a bigger risk of suffering from heat-related illnesses.
Despite the high profile of public health efforts such as the Slip, Slop, Slap and SunSmart campaigns, Australian workers say that their employers don’t protect them from the sun and heat as much as they should.
According to the 2016 Skin Health Australia Report, 65% of workers say their employer didn’t provide them with clothing to protect them from the sun. Another 2016 study by Safe Work Australia found that only 8% of workers who spend more than four hours a day outside apply sunscreen, wear a hat, work in the shade, and wear clothes that cover the arms and legs.
While many Australians may have experienced feeling ill from the heat at one point, heat stress can lead to heatstroke – a life-threatening state where the body is failing to cool itself and maintain a healthy temperature.
Usually, sweat helps maintain a healthy body temperature. But as a person becomes dehydrated, the body cannot sweat as much, and therefore can’t regulate its internal temperature. An unhealthily high temperature may then lead to dizziness, nausea, seizures, heightened pulse, headaches and many other symptoms.
So how do you prevent heat stress – and therefore, heatstroke?
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Heat stress can lead to heatstroke, if the heat stress is left untreated. The symptoms of heat stress include:
Heatstroke, on the other hand, can be characterized by a lack of sweating and red, hot, dry skin, a dry, swollen tongue, nausea, a rapid pulse, slurred speech and headaches. In the case that you believe someone is suffering from heatstroke, health authorities recommend you ring 000 immediately.
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