Heat stress is not only a risk to those who work in hot environments; in fact heat stress can affect almost anyone depending on the conditions they work in. Firefighters are at great risk of heat stress due to the strenuous physical demands of their jobs, as well as the type of PPE/C they wear. However, it is also the PPE/C which keeps firefighters safe from harm and literally makes the difference between life and death. CHARNAUD® is a global leading manufacturer and supplier of personal protective equipment and clothing and produces lifesaving PPE for a wide range of hazardous work environments such as the hot metal industry, firefighting and electrical work.
Why Heat Stress is Dangerous
When the body is subjected to very hot conditions, it activates a number of internal processes to try to cool the body’s core temperature. Excessive heat exposure causes the blood to move to the body’s extremities and increases the heart rate and blood pressure. This is the body’s way of bringing its core temperature down to a safe and manageable level, but if this is not achieved then the body sets of a cascade of warning signs and processes in a bid to save itself from death. Heat stress puts a toll on the cardiovascular system – the heart and lungs – and if this is not managed then the result can be death. Death due to heat stress is the ultimate risk, however heat stress also takes a mental toll on the wearer, and this is when accidents happen.
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Symptoms of Heat Stress
The body will always do its utmost to stay alive. When a threat like heat stress is detected, the body will go into overdrive to save itself and will send out physical warning signals. Symptoms of heat stress include; excessive sweating, cramps, fatigue, headaches, blurred vision, slurred speech, elevated heart rate, dizziness and fainting. It is important that employees know and recognise the symptoms of heat stress (in themselves and their colleagues) because early detection can literally save lives.
There are several environmental and personal factors which can contribute to heat stress. Not all these factors can be successfully managed and that is why it it’s important to know what contributes to heat stress before it becomes life threatening. Things like age, overall health, the working environment, hydration levels and your PPE all contribute to how heat stress is managed. Hot and humid working environments are most dangerous, as is excessive sun exposure. Those who work in these types of environments must ensure that they take frequent breaks to avoid over-exertion, and that they keep properly hydrated. Personal protective equipment also plays a role in helping the wearer to avoid heat stress, however the PPE worn must be the correct PPE for the type of work being done.
How does PPE help avoid Heat Stress
The role of PPE is to keep the wearer safe from the hazards of their job, and to save their life. Poorly designed or wearing the incorrect PPE can definitely contribute to heat stress. Many employees avoid wearing the correct PPE because it’s “uncomfortable” or “hot”, however not all PPE is made equal. World-class manufacturers and suppliers like CHARNAUD® are leading the way when it comes to producing PPE that is more comfortable, more breathable and lighter than many of the alternatives on the market.
For Quality PPE Garments- Contact CHARNAUD® Today
CHARNAUD® is committed to delivering lifesaving, industry-leading PPE to the global market and is constantly innovating to this end. Invest in the best PPE available and see how CHARNAUD® products can reduce the risks of heat stress for the wearer. CHARNAUD® PPE is your last line of defence in the workplace. Contact your CHARNAUD® agent today to know more about their lifesaving PPE.