Acclimatizing Workers to Heat

Susceptibility to temperature-related disease may differ widely between individuals. When confronted with warm conditions for many days, individuals become gradually acclimatized. Physical improvements in blood vessels along with perspiration work to dissipate body heat more effectively. In working conditions where the heat index is large, special precautions are needed to protect un-acclimatized individuals while they acclimatize to the conditions. These precautions are especially important during the first couple days on the job.

Develop a heat acclimatization program and plans that promote individuals to work continuously at a sustainable rate during times of high heat. With working with new employees or workers who have recently taken prolonged time off from work, each individual must start with 20% of a normal work load for the first day. Each of the following days after the first, the employee is allowed to receive a work increase is no more than 20% daily.  When weather patterns lead to a quick change into excessively hot weather, all workers, including very experienced ones, should work at 50% of the normal work load in the first day of the heat wave, increasing to 60% on the second day, 80% on the third day and 100% by the fourth day. Complete acclimation may take up to two weeks for some employees. Acclimation time can change depending on an individual’s susceptibility for heat illness, medications they are taking, medical limitations, or the heat intensity of the environment they work in.

Work/Rest Schedules Are Important to Combat Heat Stress

The risks of heat stress  are increased when working and being exposed to heat for lengthy intervals throughout a day. To combat these risks, employees should, whenever possible, spread their workload evenly throughout the day, incorporating work/rest cycles. These cycles provide a workers body with the chance to expel extra heat, reduce interior body heat, slow down their heart rate, and increase higher blood flow towards the skin.