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Heat illness -- a life-threatening occupational hazard

Every year when August comes around, employers and employees must be reminded of the dangers posed by the high summer temperatures. It is vital for all to be aware of not only precautions to take but also the telltale signs of heat illness. Prompt action at the initial stages of this occupational illness can prevent it from developing into a life-threatening situation.

The chief of the California Division of  Occupational Safety and Health says all workers who are exposed to outdoor heat must be able to recognize danger signs and know how to act upon it. Safety authorities suggest the buddy system by which no employee must work alone in high temperatures. Buddies can watch each other and get help when necessary.

Cal/OSHA says the symptoms for which to look out include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, confusion, exhaustion, cramps and fainting. Ideally, workers must drink cool water -- at least 8 ounces at a time -- at 15-minute intervals and avoid carbonated or alcoholic drinks, and also no caffeine. However, if anybody shows any of the telltale signs of heat exhaustion, it is best to move him or her to a shady area immediately -- do not wait for fainting spells to start.

Safety authorities say employees with diabetes and those taking antiinflammatory or high blood pressure medication are at an increased risk of suffering heat illness. Those who are affected must remain in the shade until all symptoms pass before returning to work. If there is no rapid improvement, it is time for medical attention. Typically, the costs will be covered by the California workers' compensation insurance program.

Source: cvbj.biz, "Cal/OSHA urging businesses to keep eye on heat illness symptoms", Aug. 1, 2017

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