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Soaring temperatures increase risk for workers

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article image Chill-Its evaporative cooling vest

Pryme  Australia Managing Director Terry Houlihan advises that workers operating in hot and humid conditions could be at risk of heat stress and needed to be well aware of the associated symptoms.

Heat waves have killed more Australians than any other natural disaster in the past 200 years, with some Australian cities such as Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide having experienced significant deaths in heat events since the turn of the century.

In 2009, 173 people perished in the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria. The same week, when the maximum daily temperature was 46.4°C in Melbourne, more than 370 people died from extreme heat in Victoria.

Mr Houlihan explains that heat stress occurs when the body cannot sufficiently cool itself. Normally, the body reacts to heat by increasing blood flow to the skin’s surface and sweating; sweat evaporation promotes cooling while the increase in blood flow carries heat to the surface of the body for release.

However, workers operating in hot and humid conditions without appropriate clothing can be susceptible to heat stress because sweat evaporation is restricted, impairing the body’s cooling mechanism and contributing to a rise in the body’s core temperature and heart rate.

Symptoms can range from weakness, dizziness and fainting to heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

According to Mr Houlihan, people working in poorly ventilated and high temperature places needed to be educated on recognising heat stress symptoms and minimising the risks associated with such symptoms. Workers at risk include miners, factory workers, fire-fighters, farmers and construction workers.

He advises workers operating in these industries to wear clothing made from materials that allow the body to breathe.

Chill-Its evaporative cooling vests feature activated polymer-embedded fabric on the inside and a water repellent liner. The vest remains hydrated for up to four hours and provides effective cooling relief for workers.

Chill-Its evaporative cooling towel features advanced PVA material that activates in plain water to remain significantly cooler than ambient air temperature and is super absorbent.

Workers can also combat heat stress and remain more comfortable and productive through appropriate breaks, a healthy diet, regular fluid consumption and the use of protective clothing. Companies can for instance, schedule more strenuous jobs to a cooler part of the day or assign more workers to one job to reduce the physical demand on each worker.

Pryme Australia is a leading supplier of internationally recognised safety and wellness solutions.

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