The calendar may show the end of summer coming soon, but temperatures in the west are in full swing with record-setting highs throughout most of the region.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is urging all surface and underground miners to be mindful of the high temperatures and avoid prolonged exposure to extreme heat.
Over the past five years, approximately 150 miners have suffered from heat-related illnesses where they required time off, medical treatment or hospitalization, according to MSHA statistics.
In mining, as in other industries, workers exposed to excessively hot conditions can suffer from a variety of heat-related disorders, from the relatively mild heat rash to life-threatening heat stroke, said MSHA.
The agency said miners most likely to succumb to heat stress are those not acclimated to the high temperature, have had a previous heat-related illness, take certain medications, are over 45 or in poor physical condition.
Depending on the severity of exposure, symptoms of heat stress can range from clammy skin to muscle spasms, dizziness, nausea, abnormally high body temperatures, disorientation and convulsions.
In even the most minor cases, heat can adversely affect a miner''s capacity to work safely, cause loss of dexterity and coordination, and hamper his ability to make quick decisions, said MSHA.
To prevent heat stress, MSHA recommends the following:
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially those containing electrolytes.
- Work in well-ventilated areas.
- Do heavy work in the coolest part of the day.
- Take rest breaks in cooler areas.
- Adjust to a hot work environment by working a 50 percent workload the first day and gradually increasing the load.
- Wear light-colored clothing with breathable fabric.
by Virginia Sutcliffe