Timely Heat Illness Discussion During ASSE 2017

A panel of experts discussed heat illness and how employers can prepare for the warm summer months.

DENVER -- Given that the high temperature here reached well into the 90s on the second and third days of ASSE's Safety 2017 expo, a panel discussion about the science behind heat illness and how to prepare for it came at the right time. "An Athletic Approach to Heat Illness—Beyond Water, Rest, Shade," included a June 20 panel of safety professionals, athletes, and coaches who discussed how to approach preventing heat illness in the workplace.

Speakers included Joseph A. Conrad, manager of Safety and Training at Xcel Energy; Gabrielle Giersch, MS, representative of the Korey Stringer Institute; Stacy Ingraham, Ph.D., MA, professor of Exercise Science at Crown College; and Rod Raymond, M.Ed., owner of Elite Athlete.

The panel laid out an explanation of heat illness, which can be anything from heat cramps to heat stroke, and how the body produces that heat. Essentially, muscle fibers produce heat, so the more muscle mass you have, the more heat you produce. This is why athletes and bigger people produce more heat and are more likely to suffer from heat illness.

The key to alleviating heat stress is to hydrate with a sodium-based water product. The bigger you are, the more water you need. Employers can prepare for this by emphasizing the lunch break as an opportunity to hydrate, as well as create a systemic approach to hydration during other breaks.

Raymond mentioned during the panel that 80 percent of people suffer from chronic hydration, and products such as energy drinks offer no positive outcomes.

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