WorldWide Drilling Resource

13 JULY 2021 WorldWide Drilling Resource ® Heat Stress Is Not Cool! Compiled by Editorial Staff, WorldWide Drilling Resource® Heat stress can be a hazard in mining environments. In addition to the heat from the rock itself, groundwater flowing through hot rock formations heats up and adds to the higher air temperature. The higher the humidity, the more uncomfortable and dangerous the area becomes. Activities like drilling, blasting, and welding add to the heat load. Powered equipment, such as engines, motors, compressors, and some lighting, further increase the amount of heat. Even human bodies generate a significant amount of heat, especially when strenuous movement is involved. Studies have shown higher accident rates among workers in hot, humid jobsites. Dexterity and coordination, the ability to remain alert during lengthy and monotonous tasks, and the ability to make quick decisions are adversely affected by the heat. Mine workers should be aware of the many factors impacting the risk of heat stress: high humidity, lack of wind or breeze to cool the body, dehydration, lack of acclimatization, age over 60 years, history of heat illness, other recent illness, certain health conditions, certain medications, physically demanding work, and recent alcohol use. Protective gear, including nonbreathable or minimally breathable clothing, respirators, and chemical-resis- tant apparel can also increase the risk. A worker may be affected by many of these risk factors at the same time. Types of heat stress range from mild to severe, and can even be life-threatening. Heat rash (prickly heat) is a red cluster of pimples or small blisters, usually on the neck, upper chest, groin, under breasts, and in elbow creases. Heat cramps are muscle cramps, pain, or spasms in the abdomen, arms, or legs. Heat syncope is fainting, dizzi- ness, or light-headedness after prolonged standing or suddenly rising from a sitting or lying position. Heat exhaustion can include headache, nausea, dizziness or weakness, irritability, thirst, heavy sweating, elevated body temperature, and decreased urine output. Heat stroke can involve confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech, or loss of con- sciousness. Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating may occur, and seizures are a possibility. The body temperature becomes elevated, and if treatment is delayed, this can be fatal. Always drink enough water to stay hydrated before, during, and after working in the heat. Don’t rely on thirst to indicate dehydration because thirst lags behind dehydration by several hours. A general rule of thumb is to drink one cup (eight ounces) of water every 15-20 minutes while working in the heat. Take rest breaks periodically to allow your body to cool down. Know your personal limits and options for cooling at your work site. Let a supervisor know if you need to take a break to cool down. Use the scheduled breaks instead of cutting them short. Make sure to wear fabrics allowing some air movement through the weave. Those wicking away wetness from the body are recommended. For new employees who are at the highest risk for heat stress, acclimating to working in hot conditions is crucial. Heat tolerance can be improved by gradually increasing the duration or intensity of work performed in a hot setting over 7-14 days. Heat stress can strike quickly, so learn to recognize the symptoms. Use the buddy method to keep each other safe. Often it is a coworker who first notices signs of heat stress, such as an altered mental state in a fellow employee, so look out for each other. If warning signs of heat stress occur, stop working, get cool, and drink fluids. MIN Photo courtesy of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Irrigation by: Rain Bird Academy Training August 2-6 ~ Phoenix, AZ August 3-5 ~ San Diego, CA August 9-13 ~ Reno, NV August 16-20 ~ Houston, TX phone : 800-498-1942 More education opportunities during events can be found by clicking here online at: Education Connection