Living in the UK, we always get excited when temperatures start to soar – even when it’s only for one week of the year – but, if you work in a warehouse or factory you’ll know that when the hot weather comes around it can make working unbearable.
While there is no legal maximum temperature that employers have to follow, warehouses and factories already have measures in place to ensure the building is well ventilated and their staff are kept cool in extreme heat. There are also some things you can do as an individual to ensure you’re not overheating during working hours.
When you’re dehydrated, it means the body is losing more fluid than it’s taking in – whether that’s through sweating, breathing or urination. As you know, when you’re hot you sweat more, losing precious fluids and important minerals along the way. This is why it’s so important to up your fluid intake on hot days, especially if you’re doing a physically demanding job.
You don’t necessarily chug jugs of water to replace the fluids lost – around 20% of your daily intake comes from food like fruit and veg. Milk is also a good drink of choice as it absorbs more slowly into the intestines, which means it stays in your body for longer. Milk also contains key electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, which replaces those lost through sweating.
Just be sure to avoid alcohol and caffeine as they are both strong diuretics, which mean they will make you urinate more than usual.
Wear clothing that’s safe and cool
In a warehouse or factory setting, it’s important to wear clothes that are both safe and comfortable, but when the hot weather strikes it means swapping out your denim and fleece out for something a bit more breathable. While it can be tempting to get the skin out and the sandals on, you still need to follow rules set out by your employer, be that ensuring your legs are covered or you’re wearing HIVIS.
The key to picking cool clothing options is down to the material they are made of. Look out for clothes made of cotton, linen or rayon which are all breathable and wick away perspiration from the skin.
If you’re still struggling to maintain your body temperature, you can also invest in a cooling vest which is a specially made item of clothing which lowers or stabilises your body temperature.
Learn your cooling points
If you need to cool off quickly because the heat is becoming too much, hunt out the body’s cooling points. The body’s cooling points are where ever you can feel your pulse – the wrists, neck, insides of your knees and elbows, as well as the tops of your feet and inside of your ankle. In these areas, your blood vessels are closer to the surface of your skin so when you cool them you also cool your blood.
The easiest way to do this is to put your pulse points under cool running water – obviously, during the working day, it can be difficult to put your knees under a tap so instead, concentrate on your wrists or get a cold damp towel and place it around your neck.
Recognise the signs of overheating
Even if you’ve taken all the steps necessary, sometimes the body just can’t cope with the heat. If you know how to spot the signs for yourself or your colleagues, you’ll be able to seek medical treatment immediately.
Heat stroke is something that most people have heard of, but don’t know the warning signs of. It’s a serious condition, that if left, can result in vital organ damage. The signs and symptoms include high body temperature, altered behaviour, nausea and vomiting, flushed skin, rapid breathing, racing heart rate and headache.
If you or someone else is displaying these symptoms, call 999 straight away, remove excess clothing and cool down with whatever means available.