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Heat Exhaustion And Respirators For Construction Contractors

June 10, 2020

Cecilia De La Rosa

Cecilia De La Rosa

For construction contractors, the hot summer months adds an element of personal protection to ensure you stay at the top of your game. Especially if you have to wear a respirator to do your job. While respirators will protect your lungs, there are other considerations you must consider if you are going to work safely and efficiently while wearing one. One of the biggest dangers you could experience during the hot and humid summer months while wearing a respirator is heat exhaustion. So, what are the things you need to be self-aware about while wearing a respirator when it’s hot?

Worker wearing rust safety mask

Elevated Heart Rate and Body Temperature

Wearing a respirator will force your body to exert more energy to breathe. Whenever you exert yourself to in the duties of your work your body will have to work overtime to supply the oxygen it needs. In order to do that, your heart will have to work harder. As your heart works harder, your body temperature will also go up, which could cause heat exhaustion. As you breathe harder to make sure you can accomplish your task, you must be very self-aware of how you are feeling and stop often to rest and ensure you remain hydrated. Whenever you wear a respirator, it’s important to remember that you have to work in less time and with lesser intensity to ensure you don’t experience heat exhaustion. Symptoms to be on the watch for include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fainting

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should stop what you are doing immediately. You should immediately:

  • Take off any personal protective equipment
  • Move to a cool place
  • Put cool, wet cloths on your body
  • Sip water – don’t drink too quickly as it could reinforce nausea symptoms

If you have cramps that last longer than one hour, have heart problems, or you’re on a low sodium diet, you should get medical treatment immediately. One way to prevent heat exhaustion is to invest in a cooling vest. Study’s have shown that those who cooling vests have fewer symptoms than those who don’t. By helping to keep your body temperature down, your body doesn’t have to use all of its resources to keep you cool, and productive. It’s important that you know your body and listen to it when it’s telling you something is wrong. Don’t try to fight through it so you can be done with a task sooner. It’s important you heed the warning signs and protect yourself so that you don’t get hurt. Remember, your safety is the most important thing. Without your health, there will be no work.

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