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Working in the heat can put extra strain on your body. With some understanding of how the body reacts to heat, you can prevent heat-related disorders.

What are the risk factors?

Below are personal risk factors that vary by individual:

  • Age,
  • Weight,
  • Degree of physical fitness,
  • Metabolism,
  • Medications,
  • Use of alcohol or drugs,
  • Water consumption, and
  • Caffeine consumption.


Environmental risk factors also play a role in heat-related stress, including:

  • Air temperature,
  • Humidity,
  • Radiant heat from the sun and other sources,
  • Conductive heat sources,
  • Air movement,
  • Workload severity and duration; and
  • Protective clothing.

Keep in mind, another factor is whether or not you are acclimated to the heat. By gradually being exposed to working in hot conditions, your body develops a greater tolerance for the heat.

Can personal protective equipment add to the hazard?

Yes, sometimes heavy or impermeable protective clothing can contribute to a worker’s exposure to the heat. However, there are specialized types of PPE that can be worn under other types of protective clothing to cool workers, such as ice vests, water-cooled garments, and air supply systems.

Work practices can help control heat hazards

A more common technique is to wear wet clothing, headbands, or bandannas. Other work practices that help control exposure to the heat include:

  • Using intermittent rest periods to recover from the heat.
  • Drinking about 5 to 7 ounces of fluids every 15 to 20 minutes to replenish body fluids.
  • Using relief workers.
  • Using the buddy system (work in pairs) when working in hot conditions.
  • Pacing the work or reducing the physical demands of the work.
  • Providing cool recovery or shaded rest areas.
  • Scheduling work for cooler times of the day or when heat producing equipment isn’t being operated.
  • Wearing light, loose-fitting, breathable (like cotton) clothing.

HANDOUT: Heat and Sun Exposure in Construction