In many workplaces, occupational exposure to heat stress occurs frequently. Short-term heat stress can cause the following severe reactions:
Dehydration: Dehydration occurs when you are not consuming enough fluids to replenish fluids lost when perspiring. Symptoms include strong thirst, dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness, and dark urine.
Heat rash: This occurs when perspiration is limited due to blocked sweat glands. Symptoms include swelling and skin irritation.
Heat cramps: This occurs during the process of perspiration. The body loses salt when sweating and when that salt cannot be replaced heat cramps occur. Symptoms include muscle cramps.
Heat exhaustion: This occurs when the body is no longer able to send blood to organs, such as the skin, to cool down. Symptoms include feeling weak, nausea or vomiting, fairness or fainting, dizzy spells, headaches, breathlessness, and difficulty working.
Heat stroke: This occurs when the body’s core body temperature rises to 40 degrees Celcius. Symptoms include confusion, altered behaviour, loss of consciousness, convulsions, and lack of sweating. If left untreated, heat stress can lead to organ failure and other serious complications.
Sunburn: Working outdoors can also lead to sunburns. Sunburns occur when individuals are exposed to direct sunlight without proper UV protection. Symptoms include blistered, red, and peeling skin. Repetitive sunburns can lead to skin cancer.