Protecting Workers from Heat Stress

June 30, 2021

All year round and especially during the summer months, exposure to extreme heat can cause a serious risk to you and your crew resulting in illness and even death. Unfortunately, many places, including Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, not known for hot conditions, are experiencing record heat waves.

As a result, this issue has taken on urgency as global temperatures rise, heat waves become more frequent and intense, and casualties mount. Science Magazine reports that between 1999 and 2010, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention logged 8,081 heat-related deaths in the United States, one-third of them in people aged 65 or older. “Already, about one-third of the world’s population experiences conditions that create heat stress,” says Nathan Bradley Morris, a Human Thermal Physiologist at the University of Copenhagen.

In this blog post, we will explore the risks of heat stress, the most serious heat-induced illness, and explore a few of our most trusted Pelican™ products that are guaranteed to keep your crew cool, efficient, and effective.

As stated above, the most serious form of heat illness is heatstroke. However other heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash, should also be prevented.

To help with detection and prevention, the Occupational Health & Safety Administration has outlined the basics and precautions to take when temperatures are high and the job includes physical work:

Conditions That Can Lead to Heat Illness:

  • High temperature and humidity, direct sun exposure, no breeze or wind
  • Heavy physical labor
  • No recent exposure to hot workplaces
  • Low liquid intake
  • Waterproof clothing
  • Know the Symptoms:

  • Headache, dizziness, or fainting
  • Weakness and wet skin
  • Irritability or confusion
  • Thirst, nausea, or vomiting (symptoms of Heat Stroke)
  • Confusion, unable to think clearly, pass out, collapse, or have seizures/fits
  • Inability to sweat
  • To Stop it Cold:

  • Establish a complete heat illness prevention program.
  • Provide training about the hazards leading to heat stress and how to prevent them.
  • Provide plenty of cool water to workers close to the work area. At least one pint of water per hour per person is needed.
  • Modify work schedules and arrange frequent rest periods with water breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas.
  • Gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks for workers new to the heat (or those that have been away from work) to adapt to working in the heat (acclimatization).
  • Designate a responsible person to monitor conditions and protect workers who are at risk of heat stress.
  • Consider protective clothing that provides cooling.
  • Protect Your Crew and Yourself:

  • Know signs/symptoms of heat illnesses; monitor yourself; use a buddy system.
  • Block out direct sun and other heat sources.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Drink often and BEFORE you are thirsty. Drink water every 15 minutes.
  • Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes.
  • What to Do When a Worker is Ill from the Heat:

  • Call a supervisor for help. If the supervisor is not available, call 911.
  • Have someone stay with the worker until help arrives.
  • Move the worker to a cooler/shaded area.
  • Remove outer clothing.
  • Fan and mist the worker with water; apply ice (ice bags or ice towels).
  • Provide cool drinking water if able to drink.
  • IF THE WORKER IS NOT ALERT or seems confused, this may be a heat stroke. CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY and apply ice as soon as possible.

    How Pelican Products Can Help

    When managers help create a culture of mindfulness around Heat Stress, workers have the knowledge and ability to keep themselves out of trouble. Investing in your personal and team heat stress prevention is always a safe bet. Some of our most-trusted Pelican products that can help reduce the occurrence of Heat Stress:

    Pelican™ Bottles and Tumblers keep cold drinks accessible for consistent hydration throughout the day. We’ve received amazing feedback on our new spill-proof DayVenture Tumblers, plus they fit in 99% of car cup holders. The leak-proof, locking, insulated lid made with Tritan™ copolyester keeps liquids safely inside, while the 18/8 pro-grade stainless steel body is vacuum-sealed and double-walled to withstand the regular bumps and drops of everyday life. The sweat-proof powder finish, ergonomic design, and built-in loop for easy backpack attachment means this tumbler looks good and feels good to the touch. The lid even includes a place to clip a carabiner or strap, so you can bring it with you every day, everywhere.

    Pelican 14QT or 20QT Coolers If you take a personal cooler to work everyday, then you know the value of investing in your everyday cooler. These compact, rugged and super-insulated coolers are a staple of personal protection from heat illness. Protect your lunch, and keep enough water to refill your Pelican Bottle or Tumbler multiple times throughout the day.

    Pelican 45QT, 50QT, 80QW for supplying cool drinks for the entire crew. These coolers can hold ice for multiple days (the Pelican™ 80QW Wheeled Elite Cooler boasts 10-day ice retention) and are large enough to supply cold drinks, food, and snacks for your entire crew. They are also rugged enough to stand up to the day-to-day abuse of being on the worksite. We all know how hard our crews use their tools, so these Pelican Coolers are built to withstand loading and unloading, opening and closing, lunchtime seat, improvised construction table, and anything and everything in-between that gets thrown on these workhorses. Plus, they are made right here in the USA so purchasing these coolers helps keep our domestic economy and workers productive.

    Pelican Ice blocks are reusable, so each night when you go home you just put them back into the freezer and they’ll be ready for the next day. Often, with the insulation capabilities of a Pelican Cooler, the Pelican Ice blocks may last multiple days or only need a small amount of refreezing to be ready to cool for the next day.

    Below are some of the product features that show how thoughtful and over-engineered Pelican coolers are:

    Compare the entire line of Pelican Coolers, including hard, wheeled, soft coolers and accessories.

    Most of the information provided here was assembled by the occupational safety and health administration. If looking for more in-depth information on how to protect yourself and your workers from Heat Stress, download our entire Heat Stress Prevention in the Workplace Whitepaper.