Often associated with those working inside in environments such as foundries and bakeries (where it is an issue all year round), heat stress can also be an issue for those working in other sectors, particularly during the warmer summer months.
Heat stress arises when your body’s means of controlling temperature begins to fail, with contributing factors including air temperature, humidity, work rate and clothing.
Symptoms are varied, but can include heat exhaustion, heat stroke, muscle cramps, an inability to concentrate, heat rash, fainting and an excessive thirst. In extreme cases and if not detected at an early stage, heat stroke can result in death.
Acknowledging the potential for people to adapt to hot conditions and / or change behaviours to try and cool down, in some situations that won’t be possible. To that end, where there is a possibility of heat stress in a work environment, employers should carry out a risk assessment.