Summer officially begins Saturday afternoon, June 20, but parts of the U.S. have already seen excessive heat and humidity.
While you may spend the bulk of your workday in the air-conditioned comfort of your truck’s cab, you might be surprised at the intensity of heat when you to emerge at a mid-day site hundreds of miles from where you started. If you’re facing, say, an hour or more of loading and securing a flatbed load, be cautious if you have conditions susceptible to heat problems.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health warns that there are several heat-related illness that should of particular concern in the workplace. They include:
NIOSH says that with heat stroke “the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down.” It adds that heat stroke can cause death or disability if not treated immediately. Symptoms include confusion; slurred speech; seizures; loss of consciousness; hot, dry skin or profuse sweating.
This is the excessive loss of the water and salt, usually through excessive sweating, and often occurs in those working outside in the sun and heat. Look for complaints of headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, heavy sweating and elevated body temperature.
Heat Syncope (Fainting)
This can occur when a person has been standing for a long time or rises from a sitting or lying position. A person may briefly faint or experience lightheadedness.
Sweating depletes the body’s salt and moisture level, and low salt levels in muscles causes painful cramps.
Look for red clusters of pimples or small blisters on the neck, upper chest, groin, under the breasts, and in elbow creases.
The best way to prevent all of these medical conditions is to, when possible, limit exposure to direct sunlight during the hottest periods of the day, stay well hydrated, always be aware of weather forecasts for high temperatures and humidity, dress appropriate to the weather, and take rest breaks when possible.
While you may be out of the heat as you drive, be cautious when you do get out of the truck, especially if you have to secure your load or handle cargo. And, keep an eye on those around you; you may see symptoms of heat illness before they do.