Working in The Heat: Signs and Symptoms


Everyone looks forward to the summer after the frigid conditions we experience in Canada. The beautiful weather and the leisure time brings the best out of people, however, the summer months can also bring on heat-related illnesses. These include anything from dehydration, nausea and fatigue to the rare, but more serious, heat stroke. It is common for temperatures to rise in certain workplaces, particularly outdoor professions or where there is heat-generating equipment. This makes it difficult to complete tasks comfortably or adequately. For that reason, it is vital to be aware of the various heat-related signs and symptoms to help you stay protected!

Here is what you should look for:

Heat Cramps:

Heat cramps are painful, brief muscle cramps. Muscles may spasm or jerk involuntarily typically in your calves, thighs, and shoulders. Heat cramps can occur during exercise or work in a hot environment.

Symptoms of Heat Cramps- Muscle spasms that are:

  • Painful
  • Involuntary
  • Brief
  • Intermittent
  • Usually self-limited (go away on their own)

Treatment for Heat Cramps:

  • Rest in a cool place
  • Drink cold water or a sports drink that contains electrolytes and salt

Heat Exhaustion:

Heat exhaustion is a heat-related illness that can occur after you’ve been exposed to high temperatures and it often is accompanied by dehydration. There are two kinds of heat exhaustion that you need to be aware of including water depletion and salt depletion. Signs of water depletion include excessive thirst, weakness, headache, and loss of consciousness. Signs of salt depletion include nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, and dizziness.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion:

  • Confusion
  • Dark-coloured urine (a sign of dehydration)
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle or abdominal cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Pale skin
  • Profuse sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat

Treatment for Heat Exhaustion:

  • Get out of the heat and avoid it
  • Drink plenty of water or fluids that contain electrolytes and salt
  • Remove any tight or unnecessary clothing
  • Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath
  • Apply other cooling measures such as fans or ice towels

Heat Stroke:

Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat injury that often occurs as a progression from milder heat-related illnesses, however, it can strike even if you have no previous signs of heat injury. Heat stroke results from prolonged exposure to high temperatures – usually in combination with dehydration – which leads to failure of the body’s temperature control system. The medical definition of heat stroke is a core body temperature greater than 104 degrees fahrenheit, with complications involving the central nervous system.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke:

  • Disorientation
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Red, hot, and dry skin
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Behavioural changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Treatments for Heat Stroke:

  • Fan air over the patient while wetting his or her skin with water from a sponge or garden hose
  • Apply ice packs to the patient’s armpits, groin, neck, and back (These areas are rich with blood vessels that are close to the skin and cooling them may reduce body temperature)
  • Immerse the patient in cool water or ice bath to help cool the body

Protect Yourself:

If you, or anyone else, have any symptoms of heat-related illnesses, it’s essential to immediately get out of the heat, stay hydrated and rest in a cool or shady place. To prevent these injuries from occurring make sure to use a “buddy” system to watch for signs and symptoms of co-workers. If affected, try to avoid hot weather and heavy exercise until your doctor tells you that it’s safe to resume your normal activities!

Tips for National Bike to Work Day


When’s the last time you dusted off that old bike in your garage? On National Bike to Work Day we think you should give your two-wheeler a tune-up and take it on a field trip… to work. It might seem intimidating at first, but we’re here to boost your confidence and give you all the tools you need to get to and from work safely.

National Bike to Work Day

How to bike to work safely

No matter where you live, bike safety is a big issue. The idea of competing with hoards of rush hour traffic can be intimidating, even for seasoned cyclists.

To begin, visit Google Maps to find route recommendations, including designated bike paths that you can follow.

Next, brush up on the rules of the road. Just like motorists, cyclists must stop at red lights, yield to pedestrians and signal their turns. But unlike cars, bicycles are often excepted on one-way streets. Check your municipal bike code for local rules. For example, in Toronto, you must have a working bell and bike light. And though not mandatory, we can’t stress the importance of a helmet enough.

The benefits of biking to work

Decrease your travel time. Really. For those living in bumper-to-bumper driving areas, this is especially true.

Get fit. This part is a no-brainer. By cycling for just three hours a week — or less than 20-minutes each way to work — you can decrease your risk of heart disease by 50%.

Boost brain power. Not only has daily exercise been proven to prevent cognitive decline and memory loss, but in a study, two-thirds of employers said that the cyclists in their office were more productive than non-cyclists. Biking to work is just one of many ways we encourage our employees to work well.

Decrease your ecological footprint. Transportation — cars, trucks and buses — accounts for nearly 30% of North America’s greenhouse gas emissions. Taking two wheels to work instead of four is an easy way to do your part in slashing that statistic.

Workstation Ergonomics: How to Set Up a Healthy Desk


By now, you know that poor office posture can lead to repetitive stress injuries and overall health issues. But you might still be wondering how exactly to correct the problem. Here, you’ll find a handy guide to help you adjust your way to workplace health.

Bends

When adjusting your monitor, chair and desk, the right angle in your best friend. For example, your knees should be bent at ninety degrees, with your thighs resting comfortably and your feet planted on the floor.

The right angle is also what you’re aiming for with mouse and keyboard adjustment. Your upper arms should rest comfortably at your sides, with your elbows bending at ninety degrees. From there, your forearms rest on the desk, never over-reaching for the mouse or keyboard. If in order to reach your keyboard, you need to move your upper arm away from your side, it’s too far. Bring the keyboard and mouse closer.

hand-wrist-posture

The final right angle to look for is in your torso. When you sit, do your hips stack directly under your shoulders and neck? If you’re slouching or leaning forward, the chair could be to blame. Look for something that supports your low and upper back. That way, you can lean comfortably into your chair while maintaining an upright posture.

Heights

To get started, your chair height should be equal to the length of your calves, allowing your knees to bend at ninety degrees.

The height of your desk should allow your arms to access the mouse and keyboard at a ninety degree angle whether sitting or standing, so what does that look like?

For a sitting desk, look for something with a height around your pelvic region.

sitting-posture

For a standing desk, you’ll want something that tops out around your naval.

sit-stand-setup

Monitor height is a crucial part of our muscular well-being, but so many people get it wrong. The top of your screen should align with your mouth area, and angle upward at about 30 to 40 degrees. This will allow your neck to stay upright, with your chin slightly tucked.

A proper monitor can be especially tricky to visualize, since it’s such a far-cry from how most of us use our computers. For a great visual aid and measurements customized to your body type, check out Computing Comfort.