Summer is right around the corner, which means the heat is coming! With warmer weather comes questions around heat-related illnesses and whether or not wearing arc-rated and flame-resistant (AR / FR) protective apparel contributes to heat stress.
What is heat stress?
Heat stress occurs after you’ve been exposed to high temperatures and your body is under stress from overheating. If allowed to progress unchecked, heat stress can – in extreme cases – cause organ failure and even death. The good news is suffering from heat stress is easily avoidable. In fact, Tyndale has an entire blog post dedicated to avoiding heat stress while wearing FR clothing, check it out here. For now, let’s hear from Scott Margolin as he shares what does and does not contribute to heat stress and how you can avoid harsh consequences related to working in warm temperatures.
What does OSHA say about heat stress?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), single layer breathable apparel is not a significant contributor to heat stress. The best practice for avoiding heat stress is to take preventative action. The following four factors most commonly contribute to heat stress:
- Dehydration: When you are not hydrated you can’t sweat and sweating is how heat is released heat from our bodies. Be sure to drink lots of water prior to starting and while working.
- Lack of rest: While doing physical work we build up metabolic energy, it’s important to take breaks periodically in order to dissipate that energy.
- Lack of shade: The sun is a radiant heat load. It’s important to take breaks in the shade and rehydrate with clear liquids while doing so.
- Existing illness and medication: Certain illnesses and medications can cause or exacerbate heat stress. Prepare accordingly.
If you’re controlling how frequently you consume water, how often you take rest breaks, prioritizing taking these breaks in the shade, and showing up to the job in your best possible physical condition, you’re controlling the main risk factors. Single layer, breathable apparel, including AR/FR long sleeve clothing, single layer AR / FR breathable material) is not a significant contributor to heat stress. Long sleeves actually reduce the risk of heat stress by shielding your skin from the sun.