Prevent Heat Stroke With Industrial Ventilation
UPDATED: April 16, 2020
The risk of heat-related illness increases as summer temperatures rise. Workers who labor in factories, warehouses, and other hot environments are especially at risk. You can keep your workforce safer with well-designed industrial ventilation systems.
Air conditioning in an industrial setting isn’t always practical or possible. To keep workers cooler, facility managers must find an alternative to AC. In most cases, the best way to keep a factory comfortable and improve indoor air quality is by installing industrial ventilation.
It’s crucial to recognize the risk factors associated with heat stroke. This is especially true during times of extreme heat (i.e., during heat waves or prolonged hot weather) and intense physical activity, which can lead to what’s known as exertional heatstroke.
If you think you see someone with a symptom of heat stroke, it’s best to attend to them sooner rather than later. Trust your instincts. Get them a cool sports drink to help reduce their core body temperature, for starters.
Prevent Heat Stroke With Industrial Ventilation
Ventilation keeps the workplace healthier by cooling and cleaning the air. Circulating air, even when it’s warm, feels better than stagnant air.
Industrial ventilation also replaces unhealthy, contaminated air indoors with fresh outdoor air. In facilities, ventilation controls airborne contaminants, in many cases regardless of the source of contamination.
This indoor air pollution may include fumes, vapors and dust collection. There is a wide range of health benefits associated with clean indoor air and ventilation systems are designed to introduce health air into work environments.
The design and fabrication of these systems include parts which contribute to air pollution control. These parts can include duct systems, air-cleaning devices, dilution ventilation, hoods, ducting, and local exhaust ventilation. These parts combine to move air from one place to another.
Opening a window is a simple way to ventilate a room at home. Industrial ventilation relies on mechanical systems such as ductwork, local exhaust systems, exhaust fans, and supply fans. These systems must be designed for specific types of work and buildings.
Ventilation is merely another in a line of effective engineering controls. In this case, it’s intended to remove and/or control contaminants. But it helps in other ways, too — such as helping prevent heat-related problems.
What Are the Signs of Heat-Related Illness?
In addition to ventilation, you can make a workplace safer and healthier by providing workers with air-conditioned break rooms or shady outdoor rest areas. Workers should always stay hydrated and wear lightweight clothing, if and when possible.
Educate your employees about the signs of heat-related illnesses. When it’s hot, people begin to show mild signs of heat stress. If the illness is not recognized and treated, it could progress to more serious symptoms.
Heatstroke is a serious, life-threatening condition. Those suffering from heatstroke need medical care. It’s important to recognize the signs of illness caused by heat.
Here are some signs of heat-related illness.
Heat cramps: Muscles may contract painfully when the body begins to overheat. Cramps happen most often to those performing physical jobs.
Lightheadedness: Feeling faint is another early sign of overheating. Workers who stand for a long time often feel lightheaded as temperatures rise.
Heat exhaustion: People with heat exhaustion experience headaches, weakness, nausea, vomiting and — somewhat counterintuitively — cold, clammy skin. They may sometimes experience heat rash. Workers with these symptoms should stop working and move to a safe place to cool down, especially during high temperatures. When heat exhaustion is not treated, it may progress to heatstroke.
Heatstroke: Heatstroke happens when the body’s temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Heatstroke can end in organ damage or death. Symptoms of heatstroke include:
- Dizziness and fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
- Vision problems
- Racing heart and rapid breathing
- Change in sweating: cessation of sweating (but physical laborers may have moist skin)
- Confused mental state: agitation, irritability, slurred speech, delirium and seizures
Workers who are suffering from heatstroke require medical help. Call 911 and move the worker to a cooler environment. Remove excess clothing. Apply wet towels, ice packs or cold water to the head, neck, and body.
As we wrote in a blog post, “What Is An Industrial Ventilation System,” installing and maintaining the proper ventilation equipment is one key to the health of your workers.
“By cleaning air contaminants, removing dust fumes, and bringing in large amounts of fresh air,” we wrote, “an industrial ventilation system is one of the first lines of defense against sickness. These venting systems may also include a way to provide dust collection for future disposal. Think of a large, industrial-sized vacuum cleaner.”
Advice and Consultations
Of course, this blog post is not intended to replace medical and health advice from experts. Always consult medical professionals whenever you’re concerned about the health and wellbeing of your employees and colleagues. However, the tips provided above should provide some guidance when dealing with heat-related illnesses in your facilities.
Storee Construction designs facility upgrades that make workplaces safer and more efficient. This includes the design and implementation of industrial ventilation systems. We can handle any size ventilation system you might need. This includes mammoth systems that push hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of air per minute (CRM).
As the good folks at Grainger remind us, “Your local building codes should contain information pertaining to the suggested air changes for proper ventilation. The ranges specified will adequately ventilate the corresponding areas in most cases.”
“However,” Grainger continues, “extreme conditions may require ‘Minutes per Change’ outside of the specified range. To determine the actual number needed within a range, consider the geographic location and average duty level of the area. For hot climates and heavier-than-normal area usage, select a lower number in the range to change the air more quickly. For moderate climates with lighter usage, select a higher number in the range.”
Storee can guide you through this process.