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Heat Stress
What to do....

Heat Stress in the
Mining Industry
U.S. Department of Labor

Mine Safety Health Administration

How could I be exposed to heat stress?

As a miner you could feel effects from heat stress if your work exposes you to:

Man working in overalls, face shield and mask. Hot

  • High temperature
  • High humidity
  • Direct sun
  • Equipment cabs with no air conditioning
  • Hot mine machinery
  • Kilns or furnaces
  • Dryers in coal preparation plants
  • Welding operations
  • Heat from wall rock
  • Hot mine water
  • Work environments with insufficient ventilation

You are more likely to suffer from heat stress if you are beginning a new job in a high heat environment, have had a heat-related illness before, use personal protective equipment (respirator, suit), take certain medication or are over 45 years old.

Why is heat stress a health hazard?

Severe heat stress may lead to death if not treated right away. In the past 5 years, about 150 miners suffered from heat related illnesses where they needed time off, medical treatment, or hospitalization. Heat stress also affects safety by making it harder to concentrate.

Cauldron of molten steel

What are the symptoms? The proper treatment?

Heat stress can cause several illnesses.

Heat stroke occurs when the body's temperature control system fails. The skin is hot, usually dry, red or spotted. The body temperature is over 105°F. The victim may be confused, have convulsions, or pass out. Act fast to prevent brain damage or death. Move the victim to a cool and shady area, loosen tight clothing, soak the clothing with water, and fan the head and upper body. Get the person to a hospital right away.

Heat exhaustion is caused by losing too much fluid and electrolytes (salt and other minerals). The skin is clammy and moist. The face may be pale or flushed. The body temperature is normal or a little high.

Heat Cramps are involuntary contractions of muscles principally used during work. They are caused by the loss of sodium and other electrolytes through heavy perspiration and the copious intake of water without appropriate replacement salts. Heat cramps are easily treated with rest and intake of water with electrolytes.

Prevention Tips for Heat Related Illnesses

  • Drink a cup of water every 20 minutes.
  • Obtain adequate salt. A sports drink or lightly salted water are examples of desirable fluids.
  • Wear clothing that allows evaporation of perspiration off of skin.
  • Take lunch and rest breaks in a cool area after strenuous activity.

    This article provided courtesy of the Physical and Toxic Agents Division, Pittsburgh Safey and Health Technology Center, Cochran Mill Road , Bruceton, PA 15236, 412-386-6978.