Every year, thousands of workers around the country fall victim to heat stress injuries and illnesses. However, workers can beat the heat by taking proper safety precautions and by wearing the right warm weather workwear like cooling vests and other cooling apparel. Continue reading to learn how to prevent heat stress in the workplace.
What is Heat Stress
Heat stress occurs when our body becomes overheated internally through muscle use, externally by the environment, or from a combination of the two. This increase in body temperature can result in illnesses like heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat rashes, fainting, or a potentially fatal heat stroke. These illnesses in turn increase the risk of workplace accidents, posing further dangers.
Heat Stress in the Workplace
It’s important to note that workers from many occupations are at risk of heat stress, whether they’re working indoors or outdoors. If they’re exposed to hot climates or environmental conditions, and/or they engage in physically demanding work, they should be aware of heat stress and how to avoid it. This includes construction workers, firefighters, miners, farmers, assembly workers, and more.
It is in employers’ best interests to provide their employees with heat stress prevention training and workwear. Even symptoms of heat stress (headaches, weakness, nausea, dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, irritability, etc.) can adversely impact workers’ safety, performance, and productivity. Therefore, employers should be prepared and equipped in order to create a safer, more productive work environment during the hot summer months. You can explore our cooling workwear and best practices below to help with preventing heat stress in the workplace.
Phase Change Cooling Vests
Phase Change Cooling Vests contain a lighter-than-water, non-toxic carbon-based liquid, which absorbs heat as it changes from a solid to a liquid.
It freezes at 58°F and remains at that temperature for 2-3 hours. Phase change cooling vests are easy to activate.
Just place the inserts in the freezer or in ice water for 30-40 minutes (freezes faster than water!).
Once frozen, insert into your garment and enjoy 2-3 hours of constant cooling power.
Evaporative Cooling Vests
Evaporative Cooling Vests use a combination of specialized fabrics and fibers to absorb and then slowly release water through evaporation.
When the water evaporates, energy is consumed and a cooling effect is created, akin to supercharging the body’s natural cooling process.
Evaporative cooling vests are on average 10-15°F cooler than the ambient temperature, depending on airflow.
They are easy to activate. Just soak in water, squeeze out the excess, and you’re all set. Enjoy 5-10 hours of cooling power for up to 150 wet/dry cycles.
Evaporative cooling accessories are designed with advanced cooling technology to help reduce body temperature and defend workers from heat stress.
PalmFlex carries cooling hats, bandanas, towels, headbands, neck wraps, and neck shades for full protection.
Cooling accessories provide hours of relief, are reusable for lasting heat stress management, and are easy to activate and reactivate.
They are machine washable and antimicrobial to help avoid mold and odors as well as the spread of bacteria and other living organisms.
Breathable Work Gloves
Work gloves are not designed with cooling technology, but some are made of lighter materials and are more breathable than others.
These are ideal on hot summer days to reduce sweaty palms and keep workers’ hands as comfortable as possible.
Additional Safety Precautions to Prevent Heat Stress:
Employees should take the following precautions to reduce the chance of heat-related risks:
- Drink plenty of water and electrolytes. It is recommended to drink a ½ quart of water per hour (equivalent to 1 pint, 2 cups, or 16 Fl oz per hour)
- Take sips frequently (every 15 mins) rather than gulping lots of liquid fewer times per day
- Avoid beverages that contain alcohol, soda, caffeine or other diuretics
- Wear loose-fitting lightweight, light-colored clothing
- Wear headgear that provides shade
- Try to eat cooler foods like salads, yogurts, and sandwiches
- Take 10-15 minute breaks every 2 hours
- Use cooling fans or other personal cooling devices
Heat Stress Prevention Tips For Employers
It’s critical that employers reduce the risk of heat stress in the workplace to the best of their abilities. Adhering to a set of working parameters will mitigate that risk. While each workplace will need to customize their parameters to their specific circumstances and needs, here are some general best practices to prevent heat stress.
- Have cold beverages available throughout the day (water and/or sports drinks)
- Allow for rest breaks and water breaks in cool areas every two hours
- Give training to employees and supervisors that includes information about heat stress prevention, symptoms, and what to do in the event of an emergency
- Provide protective cooling workwear
- When possible, provide fans or other means to circulate airflow and disperse heat away from workers
- Use physical barriers to dissipate radial heat
- When possible, schedule work when the temperature is cooler (e.g. early mornings)
- Acclimatize new employees to working in the heat by starting them at 50% of normal heat exposure on their first day and gradually build up to 100% by the fifth day.
Browse Our Complete Warm Weather Collection
Heat stress is a legitimate concern for many employers and workers, especially during summer months, but it can be beaten with the right cooling workwear and safety precautions. Choose from cooling vests, cooling accessories, or explore our full warm weather collection from top brands like Occunomix, Techniche, PIP, and Majestic.
We also offer free shipping on orders over $80 storewide within the continental United States. Buy in bulk to take advantage of our huge volume discounts. Have questions? Contact us online to discuss your cooling workwear needs with one of our experts. If you know someone at risk of heat stress, we encourage you to share this article to help them learn how to prevent heat stress in the workplace.