Heat stress is a known occupational hazard for many industrial and utility workers, contributing to preventable work related accidents and injuries. As if working with high voltage electricity 50 feet in the air wasn’t dangerous enough, linemen workers must also be conscious of how their body temperature and the temperature outside may be affecting their job performance.
Understanding the dangers of heat stress and how reducing heat stress can improve focus, performance and overall safety is extremely important.
What is Heat Stress?
Heat stress occurs when body temperatures rises and the body’s natural cooling mechanisms fail to properly cool the body down. What can start as heat rash, can escalate to heat exhaustion and the most dangerous illness, heat stroke, can quickly follow.
Why Is Heat Stress A Concern for Lineman?
Lineman are constantly working outdoors in variable conditions. Whether you are fighting heat and humidity, or the cold weather, bundled in layers of protective apparel, heat stroke can become a real concern. Moreover, the protective clothing required by law for lineman can often be hot with limited breathability and moisture wicking capabilities, keeping workers hot, sticky and uncomfortable.
3 Important Reasons Why Reducing Heat Stress is Vital for Lineman Workers
1. Heat Stress Can Reduce Job Performance
When the body is dehydrated, which can be brought on by heat stress, mental performance and decision-making capabilities are often compromised. A study focused on the effect of dehydration on workers showed that dehydration could cause a decline in visual motor tracking, short-term memory and attention span, and a reduction in reaction time and arithmetic efficiency.
These factors can reduce overall job performance and affect your ability to function properly on the line. Learn how the moisture wicking fabrics in your FR garments can keep you cool and comfortable on the job.
2. Heat Stress Can Cause A Loss of Focus and Concentration
When the body is taxed for any reason, it can drastically affect focus and concentration. If linemen are continually required to adjust uncomfortable apparel, or if they feel damp and uncomfortable, focus will not be 100-percent on the task at hand.
In fact, a NASA study using telegraph key operators in warm working conditions concluded that as the working temperature increased, the job-related errors increased as well. In 80 degree temperatures, the operators made 5 errors in one hour hour, and 19 errors after three hours. At 90 degrees, the errors increased to 9 the first hour, and 27 in three hours. At 95 degrees, mistakes were drastically higher, at 60 in one hour and 138 in three hours.
This experiment shows that rising temperatures can affect focus and concentration and increase the likelihood of worker-related errors.
Learn more about apparel that can help regulate body temperature.
3. Heat Stress Can Reduce Overall Worker Safety
Body temperature regulation is another important factor for on-the-job safety. If utility workers are unable to manage their core temperature, their performance, concentration and safety will all be negatively affected.
- Maintaining a consistent body temperature, even with variable outdoor temperature, can help improve worker comfort
- An improvement in temperature regulation will improve focus and concentration
Being proactive by selecting FR apparel that can better control body temperature can help workers maintain a consistent body temperature and reduce the risk of heat stress.
How FR Garment Selection Can Help Reduce Heat Stress
The clothes you wear on the job can make a big difference in how you feel in your daily tasks. As a lineman, if your apparel is uncomfortable, hot and sticky, it will likely impact your daily tasks and overall efficiencies. A garment that allows you to better control your body temperature means you can focus on the job at hand and moisture wicking plays an important role in thermoregulation.
Moisture wicking technology is vital, when moisture is left in a garment...
- It blocks heat from escaping.
- It leaves you more susceptible to heat illness.
- Your body temperature rises quicker.
- You become uncomfortable.
- You have less focus on the task at hand.
An FR garment with moisture wicking technology can help pull moisture off of your skin and through the fabric, where it will spread and dissipate from the outer surface.
You can watch a video explaining how to combat heat stress with FR apparel here.
The superior moisture wicking fabrics used by Lakeland combine two types of fiber together:
- Hydrophobic (water hating) Fibers
- Hydrophilic (water loving) Fibers
Superior Moisture Wicking Lineman Apparel Will:
- Pull Moisture off your skin.
- Transport moisture and sweat through the garment to the outside surface, quickly.
- Spread moisture on the exterior of the fabric so it can dissipate, to help you feel drier, faster.
The absorption rate and spreading speed of your lineman apparel can drastically affect your body temperature. If you FR shirt absorbs your sweat and moisture and spreads it quickly, it means you are less likely to become overheated and dehydrated on the job due to heat related stress.
Learn more about superior moisture wicking fabrics and how to select the right one for your team of linemen.
Be aware of the risk factors for heat illness:
- Hot temperatures, humidity and direct sun
- No breeze
- Physically demanding labor
- Not enough water consumption
- Heavy apparel
Symptoms of heat illness:
- Dizziness or fainting
- Thirst, nausea or vomiting
- Fast heart rate
- Increasing body temperature
- Excessive sweating or red, hot skin
FR performance apparel that wicks away moisture has the ability
to keep you drier and more comfortable on the job.
Choosing an FR garment that lets you stay focused on the job is critical to help prevent heat stress and associated occupational hazards. To learn more about combating heat stress by modifying your FR apparel, download our eBook: How to Combat Heat Stress with FR Apparel.
Interested in learning more lineman training and fitness tips, the science of protective clothing and how to layer FR clothing to optimize on-the-job performance? Download our eBook now: Lineman Safety Performance Guide. Learn how you can climb stronger, work safer and prevent accidents.
Lakeland set out to create an FR performance line that could exceed FR safety requirements, outlast the elements, maintain lineman body temperature and still be comfortable enough for everyday wear. Lakeland FR performance apparel offers dual-certified protective apparel with advanced moisture wicking technology and a lightweight design with maneuverability and comfort in mind. Learn more by following Lakeland on Facebook and Twitter, and be sure to #AskForLakeland.
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