Truckers tarping loads, having to wait outside to be loaded or unloaded, doing their pre-trips, dealing with engine trouble or performing any other number of things outside are just as vulnerable to heat-related illness as anyone who has to work in sweltering summer temperatures.
And being overweight and taking certain medications may make a worker more vulnerable to conditions caused by high heat and humidity.
Information from BLR (Business and Legal Resources) in their daily safety bulletin relates four heat-related conditions:
• Heat rash, a red, bumpy rash that can be itchy. Treatment is getting in a cool place and keeping skin dry and clean
• Heat cramps, painful muscle cramps. Treatment is the drink electrolyte fluids to replace lost water and salt
• Heat exhaustion, accompanied by weakness, dizziness or nausea, clammy skin, pale or flushed complexion, vomiting and in severe cases loss of consciousness. Treatment is resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of fluids, especially electrolyte fluids, to replace bodily fluids and salt, and
• Heat stroke, where the worker stops sweating, the skin is hot and dry and there is confusion, convulsions and possible loss of consciousness. In this case, an ambulance should be called immediately. In the meantime, remove heavy outer clothing and keep the person cool by soaking his or her clothes in water or misting the person with water spray. Place ice packs under the armpits and in the groin area. If victim is conscious give liquids only.
Experts suggest taking short breaks in the cool while working in the heat and drinking lots of water or fluids, probably more than you think is normal.
As to specifics, WebMD has this to say:
Try to avoid being physically active in the hottest part of the day (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.).
If you have to be physically active in hot and humid weather, drink plenty of water before, during and after your activity, including water, rehydration drinks and juices. Sports drinks that contain electrolytes work best.
Drink on schedule: two hours before you begin working in the heat drink 24 ounces of fluid; drink 16 ounces of fluid 15 minutes before you start working and continue drinking 8 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes while you’re out working in the heat.
Check your urine; it should be clear to pale yellow and there should be a large amount if you are drinking adequately. You should urinate every two to four hours during an activity if you’re staying properly hydrated. If urine output decreases, drink more fluids.
Wear lightweight and light colored clothing that is loose fitting and cool your body by spraying yourself with water.
If you have to stand for any length of time in the heat, flex your leg muscles often while standing, which can prevent fainting.
Do not drink caffeine, which can increase the risk of dehydration.
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