Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)
It is a known fact that the weather can get really hot in Australia. Working outdoors is extremely taxing if the right precautions are not taken. The weather can be dry heat if one is working in inland areas that are away from the coast or it can also be the humidity if the farm setup is situated in the lush tropics. In either way, temperatures can rise up to 45 degrees Celcius. For those who are not habituated to working in such extreme conditions, agricultural work can certainly be a grave challenge. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that proper precautions are taken. Since this field of work usually requires the worker to be outdoors, it is important to prepare yourself to avoid a heat-related accident.
Heat stress mainly occurs when the body is not able to release the excessive heat it has accumulated due to performing rigorous activities. Hence, the core temperature of the body escalates to a dangerous temperature. As a result, a heart-related illness can arise while working outside in the bright and hot sunshine. For example, activities such as manual and repetitive work in machinery sheds in areas of high humidity can lead to a severe case of heat stress. Additionally, this can also occur due to wearing heavy protective equipment such as hazmat suits. To combat this, the employer must provide sufficient and accurate information on how to manage one’s work in hot weather. Most importantly, water, shade and ample breaks must be provided to curb this undesirable situation.
Heat rash, also known as prickly heat, is extremely common while working outdoors in extreme weather. This is defined as skin irritation that is caused due to sweat that fails to evaporate from the skin. Heat rashes are common in people that work in hot, sticky conditions on a regular basis.
One should attempt to work in cooler climates while keeping the affected areas clean and dry.
Heat cramps are majorly caused by the loss of body salts and fluids during a hard-working day. The low salts in the muscles lead to a painful series of cramps. Those who work for long hours are more susceptible to heat cramps. The symptoms include pain in the affected areas and muscle spasms.
Some of the solutions include taking breaks in cool and shady areas, frequently drinking water or other soothing beverages and immediately seeking medical attention if the pain does not go away.
Some of the symptoms of heat exhaustion include rapid heartbeat, excessive thirst, weakness, nausea and headaches.
The quickest solution to get rid of heat exhaustion is to drink cool beverages. Other than this, one must be sure to take plenty of breaks in a shady area or take the day off if they are overwhelmed.
The most dangerous form of heat stress is known as heat stroke. This usually occurs when the body is unable to regulate the core temperature.
The most common symptoms of heatstroke are a very high body temperature, excessive sweating and seizures. One may even faint under these conditions.
The primary solution to this is wearing loose and comfortable clothing. Also, resting in shady areas, drinking plenty of liquids and wetting oneself with cool water may also prove to be helpful.