In simple terms, heat stress is a signal that the body is having difficulty maintaining its narrow temperature range. The heart pumps faster, blood is diverted from internal organs to the skin, breathing rate increases, sweating increases, all in an attempt to transfer more heat to the outside air and cool the skin by the evaporation of sweat. If the body can’t keep up, then the person suffers effects ranging from heat cramps to heat exhaustion, and finally to heat stroke.
Techs and installers sometimes work under extreme conditions inside hot equipment rooms and on hot roofs, where temperatures can be as much as 30 degrees higher than on the sidewalk. Contractors need to encourage employees to work smarter rather than faster.
SAFETY TIPSThe National Capital Chapter of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) supplied some valuable suggestions and safety tips in its June newsletter. They are worth repeating here.
WHAT TO DOOf course, it’s good to have air conditioning in all supply trucks. Coolers and cups should also be on board, along with sunblock cream, safety sunglasses, water and Gatorade (or similar liquid), clean towels, and rubber, insulated gloves, designed specifically to protect from electrocution due to sweating while working with electric control panels. A list of numbers to call in a medical emergency is also recommended.
Just as important is what a technician or installer does if he/she suspects a coworker is suffering from heat stroke. It’s wise to take the person in question to a cool place and get medical help if the person has any of the following symptoms:
To help a person suspected of suffering from heat stroke, it’s advised to cool the person by covering him/her with damp cloths or by spraying the person with water. One can also fan the person until his/her temperature returns to normal. The best thing is to call emergency service, as heat stroke is nothing to take lightly.
You just never know. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446; 248-362-0317 (fax); firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail).
Publication date: 07/15/2002