Every year California workers who are not trained and prepared for the risks suffer different levels of heat-related illness. It happens when the body cannot cool itself fast enough to prevent heat exhaustion. It is a subject of considerable concern each year because it could cause death.
Risk factors for heat illness
Employees’ clothing, humidity and air temperature could cause the build-up of body heat. Each worker’s gender, weight, age, nutrition and physical fitness can matter, as well as any preexisting medical conditions like diabetes and drug or alcohol use.
Red flags to look out for in mild heat exhaustion
It typically starts with a prickly heat rash, with heat cramps following. At this stage, it is called heat exhaustion, and the worker could sweat a lot, feel dizzy and tired, and the mental and physical performance could be compromised.
More symptoms include thirst and the skin feeling flushed, moist, cold or pale. Loss of appetite, nausea, headache, giddiness, a rapid, weak pulse could follow. Without treatment, at this stage, the worker could collapse. Treatment of mild heat exhaustion symptoms is to lie down in a cool area, taking frequent sips of cold water.
Severe heat illness
If mild heat exhaustion is left untreated, it could become severe heat illness or heat stroke, which could even be fatal. At this stage, the worker will have a flushed, red face, and the skin will be dry and hot, without sweat. The next stage could involve a severe headache, dangerously high fever and rapid breathing. The worker could become delirious and lose consciousness. Convulsions may follow, and then a coma.
Due to the extent of the symptoms to pay attention to, thorough safety training is essential to allow workers to look out for each other. California workers might find comfort knowing that the workers’ compensation program will have their backs. Benefits will cover medical expenses and lost wages.