Aug 07, 2018
How to Recognize Heat Exhaustion
If a laborer stands to the side of the project, leaning heavily against the lute while he rubs a cramp out of his arm, and then stumbles or weaves his way back to the mat, you need to react. Someone on the crew needs to recognize and react to what’s wrong with this worker before his condition progresses. In the blazing heat of August paving, he may be suffering from dehydration and heat exhaustion; you want to help him before he succumbs to heat stroke.
While at the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) midyear meeting in Boston, a company safety director shared with me that workers rarely recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion in themselves. It takes a colleague to see the signs and convince the worker of what’s going on.
Some symptoms of heat exhaustion crewmembers should watch for in one another include weakness, headache, excessive thirstiness, nausea (and actual vomiting), muscle cramps, dizziness, confusion, and pale and clammy skin. The foreman is typically the member of the crew who will have responsibility for the workers on site, but it is each person’s goal to watch out for his colleagues. Safety is everyone’s responsibility.
Here are some ways to help your co-worker:
– Move him to a shady (or air-conditioned) spot.
– Loosen/remove tight tool belts, etc.
– Give him plenty of fluids (not caffeine).
– Place a cool, wet towel on his neck or face.
If he hasn’t recovered in 15 minutes, it’s time to visit the emergency room.
Bonus Tip: Don’t forget the plant personnel during the dog days of summer. Make sure your plant operator knows to keep an eye out for ground workers who appear to be “weaving” when they walk or for equipment operators who have been out of sight for an extended period of time. Your plant team members should also know the signs of heat exhaustion and should be on the lookout for those signs in one another. Stay safe out there!
These symptoms and tips come from Web MD.