Workers should be aware of the many factors that can impact the risk of heat illness. (This comes straight off a PDF from the CDC.)

Please note, workers can also be affected by many risk factors at the same time, too.

Risk Factor: Dehydration

One of the MOST IMPORTANT risk factors.

Risk Factor: Environment

  • High temperatures, especially with high humidity, which makes sweating less effective.
  • Direct sun exposure
  • Lack of wind or breeze to cool the body; however, when ambient conditions are higher than body temperature, warm airflow canincrease heat gain
  • Proximity to engines or other hot equipment

Risk Factor: Activities

  • High exertion
  • Not enough rest breaks
  • Repeated strenuous days in the heart
  • High motivation to push through discomfort from heat strain.

Risk Factor: No Acclimatization

  • New employees
  • Experienced employees returning from time away from the heat
  • Acclimatized workers who experience a sudden change in worksite temperature, such as heat waves or mining in a new area

Risk Factor: Medications

Heat tolerance can be affected by medications taken for:

  • Cold, allergies, and congestion
  • Muscle spasms
  • Blood pressure
  • Urine production (diuretics)
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness/vertigo
  • Psychosis / Depression

Risk Factor: Prior Heat Illness

Increases the risk of heat illness in the future

Risk Factor: Health Conditions

  • Short-term illnesses, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or respiratory infections
  • Chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Poor physical fitness

Risk Factor: Other Factors

  • Age of 60
  • Non-breathable clothing or personal protective equipment
  • Alcohol use in the past 24 hours

Points to Remember

• Acclimatization is critical – this is a major factor in heat-related deaths on the job.
• Hydration is critical
• A recent illness can temporarily lower your heat tolerance

Be aware of other personal risk factors for heat illness.

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