Heat Stress: When Is Hot Too Hot?

As everyone endures extreme temperatures this summer, it’s important to stay safe when spending time in hot environments, especially places like kitchens and bakeries where there is little air circulation. Heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps are illnesses categorized under the term “heat stress,” which happens when the body is unable to cool itself off through sweating.

Workers at risk of heat stress include outdoor workers and workers in hot environments such as chefs, bakery workers, and anyone in the restaurant industry. “Workers at greater risk of heat stress include those who are 65 years of age or older, are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure, or take medications that may be affected by extreme heat,” according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).  Overall, people that work in environments with little air circulation have a higher risk of experiencing heat stress. 

Below are indicators and tips from Society Insurance that can help restaurant workers when experiencing high temperatures this summer.

Dangerous Heat Situations

Consider these situations that can elevate your body temperature to dangerous levels.

  • High temperatures
  • Increased humidity 
  • Strong sun
  • No air movement 
  • No controls in place to minimize the impacts of equipment that radiates heat
  • Wearing protective clothing or gear
  • Strenuous work 

Best Practices for Working in Heat

Implement these best work practices to prevent heat stress.

  • Limit time in hot environment
  • Take numerous breaks in cool environment 
  • Drink a lot of cool water or non-caffeinated drinks
  • Acclimate employees to hot conditions over 7 to 14 days
  • Train employees to spot signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses
  • Train employees on first aid procedures and when it’s time to contact emergency services
  • Train employees on the cause of heat stress and ways to reduce these risks 

Heat Safety Resources

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a helpful training tool that can be downloaded for use in training employees on risk factors for heat illnesses, symptoms of heat exhaustion/heat stroke, prevention measures, how to protect yourself, and what to do when someone is ill from the heat. 

This information is provided as a convenience for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute legal or professional advice and does not establish compliance with any law, rule or regulation.